Wednesday , February 28 2024
Don't even try to break this one.

Blu-ray Review: The Code (2009)

It would be very easy to sit back, call the new Blu-ray release The Code a bad movie, and wash one's hands of the entire affair.  It would take little skill or effort to state as much, and undeniably, one would be exactly correct in their assessment – The Code is a bad movie – but without a deeper look at why that's the case, we may be doomed to have Hollywood repeat the same mistakes in future efforts.

Directed by Mimi Leder (Deep Impact), The Code stars Antonio Banderas and Morgan Freeman as super-thieves, Robert Forster as an obsessed detective, and Radha Mitchell as one thief's love interest and the other's goddaughter.  So, in describing the problems with the film, one can't simply say that there was a lack of talent either behind or in front of the camera.  It wouldn't be inaccurate however to state that the direction is sloppy and the acting wooden – it does seem as though everyone involved in the production has performed far better in other projects.

Could the issue with the film then be its genre? Certainly not.  One can't simply dismiss an entire genre of film as less than worthwhile, and even if one could, one wouldn't say that of the heist genre.  No, heist movies have a long and glorious tradition in Hollywood and the rest of the world.  Watching the robbers try to break into the unbreakable bank/hotel/vault/company/government building and watching the feds/police/mob/private eye/lone gunman go after the robbers can be incredibly fun, and has been incredibly fun on more than one occasion.  The heist genre has not, and may never, go stale, so that's not the issue with The Code either.

It would be far more accurate to say then that where The Code goes wrong is with the script penned by Ted Humphrey and the way it is executed by the cast and crew.  The heist in question in the film involves two thieves teaming up in order to rob an evil company.  It's certainly not a bad notion; it's worked to great effect in other films, but unfortunately it fails here.  The film never gets going in any discernible direction –  tension is never built, characters are never drawn in three dimensions, the heists that take place are uninteresting and ill-conceived, the cops inane, the love story foolish, the reversals both obvious and tedious.  The film essentially looks at honor amongst thieves – at least that's what it purports to do, it never actually does more than throw the question out to the audience. 

The film is, simply put, a cheap amalgam of a dozen other heist films.  The internal logic of the film is flawed on a myriad of levels, but even if it weren't, the heist itself is wholly uninteresting.  The film seems in such a rush to get to the inevitable reversal (or two or three) that is going to take place after the robbery, that it doesn't bother to spend any time making the robbery itself interesting, or the cops and thieves on the opposite side anything but the flimsiest window dressing.

The Blu-ray release of the film, may look somewhat better than a standard DVD would, but it is certainly nothing to crow about.  It is crisper and cleaner than a DVD, but there isn't the "wow" factor one expects from a Blu-ray – colors seem washed out, the film over-exposed in unintended ways, and the 5.1 channel sound never really all-encompassing.  On the upside, the black levels are good, which helps with the number of dark scenes the film contains, and there is certainly no grain, dirt, or imperfections in the print.

As for special features, there are some brief cast and crew interviews and a behind the scenes featurette, which includes a bunch of moments from the filming of the movie.  The featurette is not strung together into any sort of overarching tale about the making of the movie, it's just there.

Throughout The Code, the audience repeatedly hears statements about never assuming anything.  While that's usually a wise tactic – assuming can lead to serious trouble – one would be perfectly safe assuming the onset of boredom watching this film.

About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.

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