We open with several pages of legalese explaining that it is against the law to have children with people who have either 100%, 50%, or 25% of the same genetic code as yourself. At the same time we see Tim Robbins flying over a vast desert, which surrounds the city of Shanghai. Clearly something has happened, something bad. We are never told what this something is. We are given hints that sunlight is bad-so bad that everyone now works at night and sleeps during the day. We are also told that clones and test tube babies are common. And most interesting of all, there are viruses that allow you to read people’s minds. How cool is that?
Well, that’s about the only cool thing in this brave new world. Code 46 is world where Big Brother is named Sphinx and controls all aspects of life-but mainly it has the power to grant or not grant a person Cover. Without Cover, you can’t travel where you want to and you might be forced to live Outside, where you have to spend a lot of time in the sun.
The crux of the story in Code 46 is when Tim Robbins, under the influence of an empathy virus, instantly falls in love with Samantha Morton, a criminal he has been sent to Shanghai to expose. Unbeknownst to our hero, he breaks Code 46 by having sex with her and impregnating her. This sets off a series of events that leads our hero and his lover to make a break for it. This is odd, since she has had her memory wiped and doesn’t actually remember him.
Code 46 was a good sci fi movie. I liked the look and feel of it, but I would prefer a little more back story. Code 46 tells us nothing about how the world came to be the way it is. We are dropped with very little information into a world where several languages are mixed into one super language that everyone speaks, passports are only good for one day, and genetic testing is commonplace. There is still the ages old class system of the Haves and the Have Nots. Though there is no explanation as to why some are allowed to live Within the system and others are cast Outside.
Code 46 had a strong realism to it, much stronger than say Avatar or Minority Report. I’m not sure there was a single special effects shot in the whole movie, and yet I had no problem believing this story was taking place in the future. Code 46 was a BBC Films movie, does BBC Films ever do anything bad?