'Code 8 Part II' Review: New Stakes Emerge in a Thrilling Sequel The Nerdy Basement

‘Code 8 Part II’ Review: New Stakes Emerge in a Thrilling Sequel

When ‘Code 8’ was released on Netflix back in 2019, the film was met with rather mixed reviews. We here at The Nerdy Basement, were also mixed on the film as well. While some of my podcast cohosts enjoyed the film for what it was, I, for one, was not fully sold on the film. I was quite harsh in my podcast review of the film and as we neared the release of ‘Code 8 Part II’, I decided to revisit the first film.

Not just to refresh my memory, but to see if I still held the same sentiments toward the film as I did in the past. Of course, upon finishing my second viewing, the film sat much better but still lacked in the areas in which I felt it lacked upon my initial watch. Going into ‘Code 8 Part II’ I was hoping the film would provide a much tighter script and lean more into its sci-fi elements. I also felt that the film warranted some more action, higher stakes, and deadlier repercussions based on the society these powered beings lived in. This is a militarized police state and that opens the floor to some rather hard-hitting truths and character moments.

Now that I have digested the sequel, I feel that ‘Code 8 Part II’ improved in all of the areas in which the first film lacked even if the film does have its hiccups along the way. ‘Code 8 Part II’ takes place five years after the events of the first film, Connor (Robbie Amell) is now a free man and is working as a janitor at a local community center looking to keep a low profile to stay out of trouble and leave his criminal past behind him.

'Code 8 Part II' Review: New Stakes Emerge in a Thrilling Sequel The Nerdy Basement
Robbie Amell as Connor in Code 8 Part II. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024

Unfortunately for Connor, his past comes back to haunt him once again. His attempt at finding peace is upended when he is forced to help 14-year-old Pav (Sirena Gulamgaus) escape from a pack of officers led by Sergeant King (Alex Mallari Jr.). King, who is working with Garrett (Stephen Amell) is a corrupt police officer and uses his connections to Garrett in his favor as he is currently in the running for union president. King has also launched a new K9 program as part of his campaign to seemingly remove the use of the Guardians thus reducing the number of killings at the hands of these robots for a more friendly and docile approach to apprehending powered criminals.

King wants to use these statistics in his favor to provide the citizens of Lincoln City with this false sense of hope and the falsehood of a haven for powered individuals and win their votes. However, King’s entire agenda and campaign are brought into question once Connor reaches out to Garrett for help in getting Pav outside of Lincoln City, whose brother was just killed by Sergeant King and one of his K9 units. Garrett and King have a deal that allows Garrett to move Psyke across the city without the police breathing down his neck. In exchange, King and his team get a cut of the profits.

Tarak, Pav’s now deceased brother was a powered being who worked as a Psyke runner for Garrett. The death of Tarak and King’s urgency in wanting to kill Pav and apprehend Connor drives a wedge between him and Garrett, mostly due to Garrett betraying him as he aids Connor. Garrett, however, isn’t too keen on giving up his Psyke empire for the sake of Pav. She’s too much of a liability at this point. His resolution to this problem is either to kill Pav or erase the memory of her brother and pretend none of this happened, essentially sweeping things under the rug to keep things running smoothly for him and Sergeant King.

'Code 8 Part II' Review: New Stakes Emerge in a Thrilling Sequel The Nerdy Basement
Sirena Gulamgaus as Pavani in Code 8 Part II. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024

This doesn’t sit well with Connor and the events that follow continuously build up the tension between this group of individuals. This lays the foundation for some whiplashing twists and turns and revelations. As I mentioned above, the film maintains its minimalistic approach to the sci-fi genre but this time around the script is much tighter and the stakes are much higher. This opens the floor for Robbie Amell to provide a much more powerful and impactful performance as Connor which I feel is a step up from his performance in ‘Code 8 (2019)’. Which, let me clarify, wasn’t bad in the slightest, the script was just not that great which affected his overall performance.

On the other hand, Stephen Amell can’t seem to move past some of his more one-dimensional acting, providing more of the same. This is where I still feel that the franchise as a whole suffers the most. The ideas are there and the execution has improved but Stephen Amell for the life of him cannot convince me that he’s this sort of kingpin moving weight (drugs) in a city where he has corrupt police officers in his pocket.

It just doesn’t come across as believable. The potential for Garrett as a character to be a memorable one is there and if another actor was in this role the character would be a much better sell. Especially when Garrett has to grapple between doing things for the greater good or his personal gain.

'Code 8 Part II' Review: New Stakes Emerge in a Thrilling Sequel The Nerdy Basement
Stephen Amell Garrett as in Code 8 Part II. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024

That being said, the Amell cousins do have great chemistry together and are great in every scene they have together so to an extent, I can dismiss some of Stephen’s more lackluster acting because Robbie carries most of the weight. It’s almost as if Stephen Amell can’t let go of his CW Oliver Queen persona and just has this douchebag aura that screams “I’m here and that’s all that matters. You do the work”. This is also more prevalent when he shares the screen with Sergeant King (Alex Mallari Jr.). Mallari Jr. runs circles around Stephen to the point that it’s almost laughable.

That aside, the effects of the powers beings in ‘Code 8 Part II’ have been vastly improved. This is seen in how the pyro powers are presented, even in electrics like Connor. His power set has only grown and that’s showcased visually which is something I thoroughly enjoyed. Director Jeff Chan also provides some extraordinarily cool shots of these powers being used. There are also some cool overhead and wideshots of the Guardians which were cool to take in. His slow motion shots are also used to much greater effect this time around as well.

Deep down ‘Code 8 Part II’ leans heavily into political corruption and police brutality, we only get a glimpse of that in the first film and the sequel provides more insight into that aspect of the story. By the end of the film, now that Sergeant King has been exposed and taken down, we learn that this is still only the tip of the iceberg. There’s a much bigger hand at play and we have to see who that big contender is and how much higher the stakes can go from here.

Just like the first film, we end on a more hopeful note. Pav has survived her gunshot wound and Connor has now taken over the community center which used to be run by Mina (she was killed by Sergeant King earlier in the film, a sacrifice play on her behalf — it seems rather inconsequential given that this wasn’t exposed when King was exposed but I digress).

'Code 8 Part II' Review: New Stakes Emerge in a Thrilling Sequel The Nerdy Basement
Robbie Amell as Connor in Code 8 Part II. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024

All in all, ‘Code 8 Part II’ manages to stand its ground and pull its weight. We are still just venturing into this world and just like an open-world video game, slowly but surely expanding the lore and exploring new locations. Keeping the franchise’s minimal sci-fi, yet underground and gritty approach, the film improves in all areas providing for much higher stakes, deeper character moments, and deadlier repercussions. The film finds a nice momentum to keep it firing on all cylinders, even during its quieter moments, resulting in a gripping and thrilling sequel to the franchise which continuously aims to go higher.

Code 8 and Code 8 Part II are both streaming now on Netflix.

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