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In Code 8: Part II, Even Superheroes Get Harassed by the Cops

A 2019 sleeper hit gets a timely follow-up.

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If superpowers were to suddenly appear in humans across the world, we wouldn’t see the emergence of an Avengers superhero team or an X-Men-style school. For most people, they would likely just become another skill set, one exploitable by employers. If you can, say, start fires with your mind, you’re probably more useful in a steel foundry than trying to stop bank robbers... and you can sure bet the government will be monitoring you. That’s the scenario proposed by a criminally underseen 2019 sci-fi movie, and now a sequel is doubling down on the premise with topical new ideas.

In 2019, cousins Stephen and Robbie Amell produced and starred in the crowdfunded sci-fi movie Code 8, written and directed by Jeff Chan. It had a limited theatrical release, but when it was added to Netflix in April 2020 — just in time for everyone’s lockdown binges — it found a new audience, even briefly appearing in Netflix’s Top 10. While plans for a follow-up series for defunct streaming service Quibi fell through, the film’s success prompted Netflix to fund a movie sequel, Code 8: Part II.

Code 8 followed Connor (Robbie Amell), an electrokinetic being in an alternate reality where superpowered figures aren’t glorified, but oppressed. People like Connor are constantly watched by robotic police officers known as Guardians, but to pay for treatment for his ailing cryokinetic mother, Connor takes jobs from petty thief Garrett (Stephen Amell) and soon finds himself pulled into a team of superpowered criminals.

Code 8: Part II communicates all this in its first few minutes through a collection of in-universe news reports, so viewers coming in fresh will soon be caught up. The ominous Guardians have since been replaced by friendlier K9 units that look a lot like what Boston Dynamics has been working on. These new units, essentially robot dogs, are supposed to be nonlethal: if you put up your hands, they won’t attack. Unfortunately, that’s not completely true, and when someone in Connor’s community is killed, he’s pulled out of his low-profile life and has to return to Garrett to ask a favor that finds both of them caught in a massive police conspiracy.

In the world of Code 8 Part II, a marginalized 4% of the population has superpowers.


The biggest addition to Part II is a character who should be familiar to fans of sci-fi stories like The Last of Us, Logan, and The Creator: a small girl with special powers who could change everything. Here’s, it’s 14-year-old Pavani, a “Transducer” who can control electronics. This means she can, among other abilities, access the footage captured by the K9 unit that killed her brother. She has the power to expose police cruelty, and Connor and Garrett will do whatever it takes to keep her safe.

While the story may sound well-tread, Code 8: Part II isn’t afraid to make a statement. While the first movie already touched on police brutality, the second digs into how the surveillance state enables the abuse of authority. It also takes big swings at subjects like drug abuse, copaganda, corruption, and assimilation, all while building out its superpowered world.

As a sequel, Part II is much bleaker than its predecessor, but it makes up for it in upgraded schlocky action sequences, and a twisty story that will keep you guessing until the end. Those familiar with the Marvel playbook and the typical sci-fi sequel playbook will be pleasantly surprised to see both thrown out; Code 8: Part II simply tries to double down on what makes its premise work.

Even though the franchise now has the shiny red N on its thumbnail, the Amells’ performance proves their passion project hasn’t lost what makes it great. In fact, it could be a sleeper hit for Netflix to bank on going forward: the cousins are already discussing a possible Part III.

Code 8: Part II is now streaming on Netflix.

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