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Code 46 Movie Review

01/09/2004. Contributed by Mark R. Leeper

Buy Code 46 in the USA - or Buy Code 46 in the UK

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Mark discovers that Code 46 is a very odd piece of science fiction. It is a film with some very nice material that tries some interesting ideas, but it fails to capture the viewer. Its flaws outweigh its virtues.

CODE 46 is a very odd piece of science fiction. It is a film with some very nice material that tries some interesting ideas, but it fails to capture the viewer. Its flaws outweigh its virtues. It is an extrapolation of the global community twenty years into the future.

The world is very different and the differences are often not explained. Giant cities now seem to have the status that countries do today. Global warming has turned most of the rest of the world into a desert. (Much was filmed in Dubai, which stands in for Shanghai.)

Rather than simply carrying identification people need to identify themselves with their insurance identification document, called a "papelle." Without a papelle you are exiled to the desert. William (Tim Robbins) comes to Shanghai looking for someone smuggling papelles out of a security building.

To aid in his investigation he has infected himself with an empathy virus that allows him to know everything about a person if they will just tell him one thing about themselves. (Oddly, some people are very surprised he has this power, though it seems to be common knowledge other places in the society. It is one more detail not well explained.)

With his power it does not take him long to track down Maria (Samantha Morton) who is his smuggler, but he is not sure he wants to turn her in. They are attracted to each other. But soon they find that their lives are connected by more than just their attraction.

The story telling is just not very involving, unfortunately. The plot just does not go anywhere. The viewer is kept interested in the background of this world but there is little development of the foreground. The plot resolution seems to come out of left field just when the writer gets tired of writing.

Director Michael Winterbottom captures a style reminiscent of both BLADERUNNER and GATTACA, but those films had more interesting characters and action. This film is static and uninvolving.

Mark R Leeper

(c) Mark R Leeper 2004 - all rights reserved

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