The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: First Look - 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 103 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Antonio Banderas, Rahda Mitchell, Robert Forster, Rade Serbedzija, Marcel Lures
Directed by: Mimi Leder
Music by: Atli Ovarsson
Written by: Ted Humphrey
Region Code: 1
Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 23, 2009
"Never underestimate your partner in crime"
From acclaimed director Mimi Leder (Deep Impact), with an all-star action cast led by Morgan Freeman, Antonio Banderas and Radha Mitchell, THE CODE is full of deceit, thievery and twists at every turn. While pulling a down-and-dirty jewelry heist on a subway train, Gabriel (Banderas) encounters Ripley (Freeman), a legendary thief who was casing the same job. In spite of Gabriel's initial reluctance, Ripley manages to rope him into an impossible job: the theft of two priceless Faberge Imperial Eggs from the heavily guarded vault of a New York diamond wholesaler. The stakes rise for Gabriel and Ripley when Ripley's goddaughter (Mitchell) is kidnapped by the KGB. Staying one step ahead of the NYPD, the FBI, the diamond merchants and the vicious Russian KGB crime boss determined to have the priceless eggs for himself, Gabriel and Ripley must find a way to pull off the heist and make it out alive.
In reading the above plot synopsis one would think that The Code is a multifaceted, and intriguing crime thriller that features a solid cast and established director. Unfortunately the cast couldn't overcome this poorly conceived and contrived script that offered uninteresting/underdeveloped characters, a derived, slow plotline, and formulaic elements that lacked good implementation. I like heist films and I have no problem with the use of angles that have been covered before but this one just tried too hard. It borrowed from films like The Italian Job, The Score, and Ocean's eleven. It lacked their interesting characters, steady direction, cohesive story and intelligent dialogue. This film threw in several plot twists that were easily anticipated although there was one that I didn't see coming. Unfortunately its effects were tainted by a poor follow up regarding its explanation. The cherry on top was a half baked love story that resulted in a series of nonsensical exchanges that were topped off by a corny ending. I couldn't help but chuckle while watching the cast interviews in the bonus features. To say that Morgan Freeman seemed pressed as he tried to provide an articulate and enthusiastic description of his character and the film's story would be an understatement. Morgan Freeman is one of my favorite actors and his presence tends to elevate interest. The addition of Rahda Mitchell, Antonio Banderas, Marcel Lures, and requisite bad guy Rade Serbedzija lent The Code excellent potential. For me this just wasn't a very good film. The bad far outweighed the good and this ended up being a case where I felt like a fine ensemble cast went to waste.
The rating is for sexuality, language, and brief nudity.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Code comes to Blu-ray Disc from First Look Pictures featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 22 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 1.4 mbps.
The video presentation was strong in terms of detail perception, color reproduction and resolution. The majority of the film had a polished, razor sharp, vibrant and noise free quality that looked excellent. The level of discernible detail was high in all but a few of the wide angle and low level shots where it occasionally fluctuated. During those scenes the image took on a smooth texture which impeded the perception of the finest details. Blacks were rich with ample dynamic range which drove dark scenes and those containing both light and dark elements making them pop nicely. Colors were well saturated, vivid and very pleasing. Contrast levels were elevated to the point where it gave bright images a dynamic aesthetic that slightly effected the perception of white detail. It sometimes gave the video a high powered aura that I felt made it look less film like.
The disc's case indicates that the only language option is Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that it was in fact Dolby TrueHD 5.1 encoded. Dialogue is firmly planted in the center channel and clearly renders voices and effects with appropriate distinction and balance within the front soundstage. Low frequency effects aren't intense but the subwoofer is kept busy as it works in tandem with the rest of the system to convey the low level bass impact as dictated by the film's elements. Dynamic range was very good which lent subtle distinction to low level sounds and gravity to broader ones. A large portion of the film has little need for this as dialogue, atmospheric ambience and musical enhancement is readily conveyed by the front channels. However there are several sequences that engage the entire system to briefly produce room filling sound that is measurable but not necessarily engaging.
- Cast/Crew interviews featuring Morgan Freeman, Rahda Mitchell, Antonio Banderas, Robert Forster, and Director Mimi Leder
- Behind the scenes - 16 minute featurette
- 4 BD Previews from First Look Pictures
The Code purports to be a slick, edge of your seat, heist thriller but unfortunately it comes off as unoriginal and a little campy. I found it disappointing because it has a wonderful cast and a capable director in Mimi Leder. It isn't without some redeeming value if you like stars Morgan Freeman and Antonio Banderas but I would strongly recommend a rental before considering purchase. The bonus material includes cast interviews and a behind the scenes feature that appears to be exclusive to the Blu-ray however neither is particularly interesting. On a positive note the high definition presentation from First Look Pictures is excellent and looked great on my large screen.
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