First Look Pictures // 2009 // 103 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 23rd, 2009
What's code for "This movie stinks?"
Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight) and Antonio Banderas (The 13th Warrior) team up to collect a paycheck.
Master thief Keith Ripley (Freeman) has his eyes on the greatest prize of his infamous career: some priceless eggs. To pull off this seemingly impossible feat, Ripley brings aboard a fella named Keith Martin (Banderas), a thief in his own right, but not as smooth and suave. He's also super-horny, as evidenced by his clumsy affair with a mysterious woman (Radha Mitchell) who may or may not be playing him. Actually, there's a real shot that everyone is playing each other, to the point there are so many double-crosses and betrayals you will have lost interest in the heist before the convoluted finale transpires.
Once destined for a feature film release, The Code was wisely determined to be the type of dreck best written off in the direct-to-DVD market. The best word for describe this film is "flat." Mimi Leder's direction is flat, the acting is flat, the story is flat, and, most disappointingly, the heist is flat.
The Code (a flat title by the way, barely edging out the original, Thick as Thieves) is built around two things: the big heist, and a serpentine series of twists, none even approach a satisfying execution. Take the theft sequence. If you fashion yourself a heist movie, which The Code undoubtedly does, then you should know the competition is fierce. With all the Ocean's movies, The Italian Job, and Heist, if notoriety is what you're angling for, you better bring something new to the game. The theft sequence here is long and drawn out, commanding a large chunk of screen time and armed with nothing particularly interesting or clever. In fact, the only gag that jumps out is how they got the fingerprints they needed, by wrapping plastic around the handles of a Stairmaster. If that's the high point of thieving shenanigans, you should be concerned.
The tedium doesn't stop there. Following the heist, it's onto a myriad of backstabbings and betrayals, where loyalties and true motivations are revealed. The twists are dramatic, but don't really make sense, upon closer inspection (Keith Martin's identity is the prime culprit; his revelation and beaucoup missteps are laughable in their contrivance).
This might have been disappointing, if any of the actors cared in the least about what was going on. Freeman and Banderas are obviously disinterested, and I very much doubt they made a stink over the film's failure to score a theatrical release. The quicker this mediocrity is buried on the Blockbuster shelves the better. Just as long as the check clears.
First Look's DVD is as minimalist as the actors' effort. The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and 5.1 surround mix are workable, but nothing special. No extras here for you.
The Code is a disposable heist movie, stocked with lazy performances, and mimicked by its DVD release. Everyone involved merely "shows up."
Guilty. Back to The Groundlings for some refresher courses.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: First Look Pictures
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 103 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R