This is what we know about Dris (Samuel Le Bihan) at the beginning of The Code: he likes to sleep in the buff, he has a difficult time lighting a cigarette in the morning, and several years in “the cooler” have preserved his rugged good looks. By film’s end, we haven’t learned that much more about the guy. When Dris returns to the real world, his crazy cousin Yanis (Samy Naceri) tries to get him to go bad again when all the poor guy wants to do is protect his little brother from harm. A turf war ensues, and after an elaborate armored car robbery, Dris finds himself trying to negotiate the return of his kidnapped bro. Not only is The Code visually unexciting, it doesn’t seem to have a discernable point beyond trying to set up an elaborate shoot-out. At times, the film even suggests an unemotional, Cliffs Notes knock-off of “The Sopranos.” Considering how often the characters call each other faggots, it’s a surprise the film’s Big Themes (you know: Masculinity, Honor and Privilege) don’t flash on the screen in big bold letters. (If not for Sammy Naceri’s character taking offense and shooting a guy for a painfully extended anal rape joke, I might have exited the film halfway through.) The dialogue is lousy (a drug lord demands a “mad dog” posse and, in the next scene, someone threatens to eat someone’s face), and despite the handsome Bihan’s plaintive gaze, director Manuel Boursinhac and co-writer Bibi Naceri Boursinhac barely allow Dris’s existential disconnect to register. The same could be said about the film’s culture war—despite the cast of gypsies and uppity Spaniards, the film’s exoticism is (like the ethnic chants on the soundtrack) merely background noise.
- Samuel Goldwyn Films
- 106 min
- Manuel Boursinhac
- Manuel Boursinhac, Bibi Naceri
- Samuel Le Bihan, Samy Naceri, Clotilde Courau, Marie Guillard, Michel Duchaussoy, Philippe Nahon, Franics Renaud, Lucien Jean-Baptiste
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