Code 46

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Code 46 Movie Poster Image
Disappointing sci-fi that's too intense for kids.
  • R
  • 2004
  • 90 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Violence

Tense and scary scenes.

Sex

Explicit sexual references and situations.

Language

Some very strong language.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink, smoke, and take drugs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie has very explicit sexual references and situations, including bondage. Characters drink, smoke, use drugs, and use strong language. There are tense scenes of peril and some minor violence.

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What's the story?

CODE 46 is set in a future when a law prohibits procreation unless the couple can establish that they are not genetically linked. The culture has become as homogenized as the DNA. All cities have the same sort of pan-global sameness. And travel is restricted to those who can secure official passports called "papelles." William (Tim Robbins) is an investigator who uses an "empathy virus" to enhance his natural intuition and talent for figuring out who is telling the truth. He is investigating the disappearance of papelles from its manufacturer. He has an affair with one of the suspects, and she becomes pregnant. But it is a Code 46 violation, so she must be taken away for an abortion and memory erasure. He finds her again, but she has no recollection of him. William takes her away for what could be a moment of a kind of freedom for both of them, but there are so many obstacles, legal, practical, chemical, cultural, that it may not be possible.

Is it any good?

The world director Michael Winterbottom creates is much more interesting than the story or the characters. It's what goes on in the edges of the frame that matters here. The atmosphere of the film is rich and meaningful while the story is frustratingly simple and superficial, almost an afterthought. The connection between William and Maria that is supposed to be so powerful barely registers. There is no chemistry at all between Robbins and Morton, who both appear uncomfortable and awkward. The tantalizing glimpses of a fully-envisioned sense of the future prove to be disappointing indicators of what the movie could have been.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what in today's society inspired this idea of the future.

Movie details

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