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Overall Rating

Awesome: 23.26%
Worth A Look44.19%
Average: 16.28%
Pretty Bad: 16.28%
Total Crap: 0%

4 reviews, 19 user ratings

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Code 46
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by Scott Weinberg

"Here's what could happen when Technology finally overcomes Humanity."
4 stars

Some movies require no effort on the part of the viewer. This is not necessarily a criticism; there are several damn good movies that appeal exclusively to the eyes while the brain sits on the waiting bench outside. Michael Winterbottom's latest movie is a dramatic sci-fi romance amalgam, and it DOES require a good amount of attention from its audience. Stop paying attention for five minutes and you'll end up lost...and probably quite bored.

Just to supply some sort of reference point, one could describe Code 46 as Gattaca meets film noir...with just a little Gilliam tossed in for flavor and an askew sense of futuristic mystery to keep thing suitably weird and entertaining. Oh, and there's a few shades of Minority Report in there as well, only don't go in expecting any gunfights or frantic chase scenes.

Winterbottom's world is a future in which nearly everything is destroyed, save a few key cities that require security clearances if you want to visit. Sprawling skyscrapers and stacked ramshackle tenements share the landscapes (indeed, Code 46 is one of the most amazing-looking dystopias since Ridley Scott's immortal Blade Runner) while emotionless humans scurry about like lobotomized maze-rats.

In this future, we're offered medical supplements for nearly everything: one pill raises one's empathy, which allows them to all but read other people's minds. Memory clinics can surgically remove any 'unhealthy' memories that may be swimming through your subconscious. Oh, and since half the people on the planet are direct ancestors of human clones, the act of baby-making is policed quite closely. Too many familiar gene combinations inevitably lead to extreme unpleasantness, so you must be pre-screened before you head off to fertilize your lady's eggs.

On it's most basic scale, Code 46 is a love story between William (Tim Robbins) and Maria (Samantha Morton) and the way in which their affair is doomed via the astounding and invasive technologies of a genetically defective world. In a future where science easily trumps human emotion, a thing as simple as love holds little hope for survival.

Not surprisingly, the leads are absolutely stellar. Robbins delivers some of his best work in years, while Samantha Morton continues her string of fantastic performances in a series of impressive films.

Clearly there are lots of lofty concepts and challenging ideas being bandied about throughout Code 46, yet the tale is presented in such subtle and quietly vague fashion that the viewer is required to listen close and keep up with it if they hope to get something out of it. If you appreciate science fiction that's quiet, contemplative and compelling, albeit entirely bereft of CGI aliens and space battles, Code 46 is something you'll most likely quite enjoy.

'Code 46' is the best sort of science fiction in that it takes a stark and wondrously cynical view of one potential future, and uses that to comment on where humanity is today. It's an odd and impersonal and sometimes confusing little movie, but one that offers food for thought in a fascinatingly low-key fashion.

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originally posted: 03/23/04 20:15:21
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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

8/18/10 Ophion Very nicely done. Thought provoking, visually perfect for the story. 5 stars
4/25/08 Grit Worth a look but lacks a certain something... 4 stars
9/12/06 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
8/07/06 Miochael Young Intriguing subject, images reminiscent (inevitably) of Tony Doyle's work. 4 stars
8/07/06 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
8/13/05 yuko true love romance and great actors 5 stars
8/06/05 Greg Ursic Good premise, poor execution 2 stars
7/31/05 Bobby da Squid Excellent thinking-man's sci-fi. Worth watching just for the beautiful, unusual locations. 4 stars
3/22/05 Joanne Murrin This movie was incredible and really got underneath my skin.... 5 stars
3/21/05 Elizabeth S Loved the look of the film. 4 stars
1/22/05 anthony its fucking great 5 stars
1/03/05 Bert Rito Decent sci-fi romance. Morton (and her puppies) are great 4 stars
9/26/04 P.Rodriguez Marvelous 5 stars
8/19/04 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
5/09/04 Ray Very good 5 stars
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  06-Aug-2004 (R)
  DVD: 28-Dec-2004



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