Stephen Amell and Robbie Amell are cousins. They’re both huge parts of the Arrowverse, with Stephen playing the title role on Arrow and Robbie playing Firestorm in The Flash. And in 2016, the two made a short, proof-of-concept sci-fi short film called Code 8 as proof to investors that their original story was something worth expanding into a feature. Now, three years later, the creative cousins have their full-length version of the idea ready to watch in theatres or On Demand December 13. And they’ve got a trailer to boot.
Directed by Jeff Chan, who also directed the original short, Code 8 takes place in an alternate history dystopian world. Some of us possess abilities that could be construed as superpowers. But don’t be mistaken — these superpowered folks are instead viewed as outcasts, discriminated against, and left in the lower classes of society to suffer. When one powered man (Robbie) struggles to make ends meet for his sick mom, he turns to a friend (Stephen) who works for a high-powered drug lord (Greg Bryk, Ad Astra), and the two turn to superpowered crime. But they’re on the run from two detectives (Sung Kang and Aaron Abrams) and a scarily high-tech police force that feels like Robocop crossed with District 9.
It’s a pretty ingenious idea for a thrilling film. Combining the tropes of superhero cinema and crime cinema has worked for previous low-budget works like Sleight — throwing a near-future dystopian coat on the whole enterprise is a smart move for the Amells, Chan, and screenwriter Chris Paré (The L.A. Complex). And if the Amells are trying to move away from the teen-friendly sheen of their CW shows, Code 8‘s darkness should do it — the trailer opens with a damn police shooting, is coated in hazy brown color correction, and features a lot of haunted-looking men saying haunted sounding things like “If I lose her, I’ve got nothing left.” The action sequences look equal parts terrifying and cleanly shot, and the superpowers are appealingly realistic. Color me cautiously optimistic for Code 8, and for the partnership between the Amells, Chan, and Paré.
Check out the trailer and official synopsis for Code 8, released in theatres and On Demand December 13, below. And make sure to watch the original short film here.
Code 8 is set in a world where 4% of the population is born with varying supernatural abilities, but instead of being billionaires or superheroes, they face discrimination and live in poverty, often resorting to crime. Connor Reed (Robbie Amell), a power-enabled young man, is struggling to pay for his ailing mother’s (Kari Matchett) health treatment. Fighting to earn enough money as a day laborer, Connor is lured into a lucrative criminal world by Garrett (Stephen Amell) who works for Lincoln City’s reigning drug lord, Marcus Sutcliffe (Greg Bryk). Garrett helps Connor sharpen his powers in order to execute a series of crimes on behalf of Sutcliffe, while a militarized police unit, led by Agent Park (Sung Kang) and Agent Davis (Aaron Abrams), hunts them down.