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Awesome: 23.26%
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4 reviews, 19 user ratings

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Code 46
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by Elaine Perrone

"It doesn't have to be 'Reveille' to be a wake-up call."
4 stars

In the near-future world of director Michael Winterbottom and writer Frank Cottrell Boyce, Code 46 is the law of the land. Global warming has reduced much of the world's surface to barren desert. Cities have become so overcrowded and environmentally fragile that outsiders must be kept out at all costs. In a time when human cloning and genetic manipulation are commonplace, couples must submit to DNA testing before they can marry or conceive children, and individuals must pass rigorous standards in order to be deemed fit to live in the cities. Persons wishing to legally travel between cities are required to have "cover" in the form of "papeles," combination identity cards-visas-insurance documents. Non-citizens, who are declared unfit for travel of any kind, are relegated to living in the desert and are denied official cover.

William Geld (Tim Robbins) is an investigator for The Sphinx Insurance Corporation, the totalitarian entity that governs the cities and produces the papeles. When it is discovered that people are traveling under fraudulent documents smuggled out of The Sphinx's Shanghai operation, William is sent from Seattle to Shanghai on a 24-hour papel to investigate. Injected with an "empathy virus," which enables him to intuit people's thoughts and feelings by asking them a few simple questions, William quickly identifies the smuggler as Maria Gonzales (Samantha Morton). Finding himself drawn to her in a way that even he doesn't quite understand, he is unable to implicate her. Instead, he spends the remainder of his 24 hours in Shanghai with her, falling under her spell and becoming complicit in her crime.

After returning home to his wife and son in Seattle, William is informed by his superiors that several people have died as a result of traveling under the fraudulent papeles. Despite his plea that they reassign the case, attributing his failure to find the culprit to a flaw in his "empathy" implantation, he is ordered to return to Shanghai to complete the investigation. When he tries to make contact with Maria, he is told only that she has disappeared.

Finally tracking her down in a clinic, he learns that she has been accused and found guilty of a Code 46 violation, resulting in the performance of several "procedures" upon her, including one that has eradicated from her memory all traces of the violation -- and her relationship with William.

As he comes to understand the nature of Maria's Code 46 violation, William also discovers a connection between the two of them that is far deeper than just their mutual attraction. When his own travel privileges are revoked, he resorts to using one of the fake papeles he secreted during his investigation to flee with her from city to city, trying to stay one step ahead of the authorities from whom they have become fugitives. In doing so, he sets them upon a course with far-reaching and tragic consequences that one of them will never fathom and the other will never forget.

Filmed in Shanghai, Dubai, and Jaipur, the dystopian world created by Winterbottom and his cinematographers, Alwin Kuchler and Marcel Zyskind, is at once eerily foreign and disquietingly familiar: Journeying from city to city with checkpoints in between each one, travelers speak a language that is a hybrid of English, Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese, and Arabic. Disease control and the depleted ozone are abiding issues: Cities, and the glass houses in which the residents live, are sealed off to protect them from both the sun and the shanty-towns, and those who live in them. Cars (today's models) entering the city are blasted with jets of water to rid them of possible contamination from outside. Human cloning is not a matter of raging debate but a reality of life.

Samantha Morton is a photographer's dream and is radiant here. Tim Robbins, a wonderful actor, seems a bit uncomfortable as a passionate romantic lead, but his strong socio-political voice rings loud and clear, right along with Winterbottom's, with a message that, sadly, too few will hear.

In today's world where the privileged "haves" live in figurative glass houses, under the auspices of a government that protects their interests, and the disenfranchised "have-nots" barely get by (and for whom government involvement means intrusion or deprivation rather than protection), Code 46 is a highly relevant wake-up call, one that we dismiss at our own, and our children's, peril.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8868&reviewer=376
originally posted: 08/17/04 05:23:15
[printer] printer-friendly format  
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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