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Overall Rating

Awesome: 23.26%
Worth A Look44.19%
Just Average: 16.28%
Pretty Crappy: 16.28%
Sucks: 0%

4 reviews, 19 user ratings

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Code 46
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by Jay Seaver

"The type of movie that should be encouraged, but also improved upon."
2 stars

I wish Code 46 were a better movie. Granted, I wish that for most bad movies, but when a science fiction film does something right that is more often than not done poorly or not at all, it would be nice if something (anything) in the rest of the movie was to the same standard.

I liked the way <I>Code 46</I> seemed to be set in a believably evolved future. All too often, the future in a sci-fi movie is basically the present, with one bit of new technology added. Writer Frank Cottrell Boyce does better here, even peppering banal everyday conversations with bits that seem alien or incomprehensible to the present-day audience. Despite the long written bit of exposition on what a "Code 46" is at the beginning, other features of the future world aren't so carefully explained. It seems to be a given that most children are conceived via artificial insemination, and may not be genetically related to the parents who raise them. The landscape outside every city shown is arid desert, from Shanghai to Seattle. And it's relatively common for skills and abilities to be implanted via virus.

So, the movie's got that going for it. Unfortunately, apparently the most interesting story Boyce could find to tell in that future world was a tepid romance between William (Tim Robbins), an "intuitive investigator", and Maria (Samantha Morton), one of the factory workers he is brought to Shanghai to question. That he lies to protect her (and apparently doom someone else to life outside the city walls) at first seems inexplicable, although a connection forms between the characters, if not necessarily the actors.

Obviously, all that stuff we saw during the opening about how a Code 46 violation infolves a relationship between people with at least a 25% genetic relationship (which is generally what one has with siblings) is going to be important. That's where the movie becomes, for lack of a more descriptive term, icky. I can see the idea that having genetic material being randomly distributed in the way this future world posits would lead to a lot more inadvertant relationship between people whose DNA comes from the same source, but when the characters opt to pursue it despite all that, who do you root for? By the end, the movie practically has one thinking that the secretive "Sphinx" organization - which appears to be run like a corporation while functioning as a de facto world government - is the most reasonable group of people in the movie. And as I've said before, I don't like being put in the position of having to feel that the guys who erase memories and implant thoughts and compulsions are the good guys.

Director Michael Winterbottom opts to go the <I>Gattaca</I> route visually, for the most part, although the streets of Shanghai aren't quite so slick and antiseptic as the world of Andrew Niccol's movie. The movie appears to be shot primarily in locations with odd enough architecture to suggest a sort of sleek future aesthetic. The constant identity verifications also might remind one of <I>Gattaca</I>. And while <I>Code 46</I> is in some ways more ambitious in its ideas than <I>Gattaca</I> - <I>Code 46</I> offers a more complicated set of moral quandries than the simple desire to for self-determination even if one is considered genetically inferior - none of the people have the passion displayed by Niccol's characters. <I>Code 46</I> never cracks its world's austerity to get at the primal thoughts that would drive the story.

It's a nice try, I suppose, and it hurts me to speak ill of a science fiction movie that has ambition beyond being an action movie with laser guns, but the end result is pretty disappointing.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8868&reviewer=371
originally posted: 08/30/04 08:18:08
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2004 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

8/17/10 Ophion Very nicely done. Thought provoking, visually perfect for the story. 5 stars
4/24/08 Grit Worth a look but lacks a certain something... 4 stars
9/11/06 jhwallacejr scary glimpse of the way the world is heading 5 stars
9/10/06 Tim Film was too short. I wanted to know more about the writer's vision of the future 5 stars
8/06/06 Miochael Young Intriguing subject, images reminiscent (inevitably) of Tony Doyle's work. 4 stars
8/06/06 Paul R Brilliant..! 5 stars
6/02/06 PR reminded me of Blade Runner. Good anyways 4 stars
4/26/06 Nathan Moody, cool story. Kept my interest entire time. 5 stars
8/12/05 yuko true love romance and great actors 5 stars
8/05/05 Greg Ursic Good premise, poor execution 2 stars
7/30/05 Bobby da Squid Excellent thinking-man's sci-fi. Worth watching just for the beautiful, unusual locations. 4 stars
3/21/05 Joanne Murrin This movie was incredible and really got underneath my skin.... 5 stars
3/20/05 Elizabeth S Loved the look of the film. 4 stars
1/21/05 anthony its fucking great 5 stars
1/02/05 Bert Rito Decent sci-fi romance. Morton (and her puppies) are great 4 stars
9/25/04 P.Rodriguez Marvelous 5 stars
8/18/04 Nikolai Flick is a code46 violation need my memory erased. 3rd world digicam pans dykish Maria. 3 stars
8/17/04 A Something diffrent than all run-of-the-mill brain-less action moves 4 stars
5/08/04 Ray Very good 5 stars
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  06-Aug-2004 (R)
  DVD: 28-Dec-2004



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