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The Code
BLU-RAY disk
Jul 1, 2009 By: Mathew Plale
The Code order
Director:
Mimi Leder

Actors:
Morgan Freeman
Antonio Banderas
Radha Mitchell

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A veteran thief (Freeman) teams up with a younger crook (Banderas) to steal two expensive Fabergé eggs.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
The major disadvantage of being a DVD critic (compared to your textbook film critic) is that we’re the ones stuck reviewing this straight-to-video muck hurled out each week. But we’re in good company this week, because although it wasn’t released theatrically in the States, the critics in Turkey and Romania also had to sit through The Code.

The story: veteran thief Keith Ripley (Morgan Freeman, again as the bad MF’er with a gun--see Wanted) recruits younger* looter Gabriel Martin (Antonio Banderas) to steal two Fabergé eggs in order to pay off a debt owed to the Russian mob, an organization that seems to be all the rave in recent crimes movies.

*Now by younger, I mean “pushing 50.” Normally this sort of plot would call for the veteran to team up with a crook in his mid-20s.

Interesting that convention is bucked, even if cliché isn‘t. Gabriel and Ripley’s goddaughter Alexandra (Radha Mitchell) have an affair and because a movie as dull as The Code (which also goes by Thick as Thieves, though you really shouldn’t go looking for either title on video store shelves) needs at least three twists, she is kidnapped by the Russians, the boss of which she may know personally. So how tight is Ripley in with the mob? And is Gabriel also potentially playing two sides?

He may not be that smart. This is the same guy who, after making a lift on a crowded and speeding subway car, clings to the roof for his great escape--a scene which would have been at least a little exciting if it weren’t obviously filmed in front of a green screen.

The whole fiasco was concocted and, worse, put to paper by Ted Humphrey, whose most notable credits include a handful of episodes of The Unit and Shark (remember that one?). His idea of being clever here is a nod to Jules Dassin and his French heist classic Rififi, references that will go completely unnoticed by 99.5% of the audience.

Fortunately, those that do “get” the joke (even before a waiter points it out) will get the satisfaction of smiling once in the 103 minutes. But even a Turkish film critic could tell you that’s not enough.
THE EXTRAS
Behind the Scenes (SD; 16:21) nixes the interviews, instead devoting its time solely to rough-looking footage from the set. Boring and overlong.

Cast/Crew Interviews (SD; 7:54): Ah, here they are! Freeman, Banderas, Mitchell, Leder (who suggests her film “transcends the genre”), and others sit down to discuss The Code. Simple as.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
The Code, despite starring the usually likable Morgan Freeman and that Spanish fellow who's shagging Melanie Griffith, clearly went straight to video for a reason. Skip it.
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