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NEW Freeman/banderas - Code (Blu-ray)
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From acclaimed director Mimi Leder, with an all-star action cast led by Morgan Freeman, Antonio Banderas and Rahda 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, Jack (Banderas) encounters Ripley (Freeman), a legendary thief who was casing the same job. In spite of Jack 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 Jack 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, Jack and Ripley must find a way to pull off the heist and make it out alive.
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Morgan Freeman stars as Keith Ripley, a professional burglar who has yet to be caught. While working on his next goal he comes across a young upstart named Gabriel Martin (Antonio Banderas) and recruits him. Ripley has a huge heist planned, the culmination of his long heralded career but he needs a partner.
As the story unfolds we also meet Alexandra (Radha Mitchell), the daughter of Ripley's late best friend. Alexandra has caught the eye of Gabriel, much to the chagrin of Ripley. Feeling a debt of protecting his old friend's daughter, he warns Gabriel to steer clear, which of course Gabriel ignores.
It is because of his old friend that Ripley has set in motion his latest scheme. Ripley's old partner owed a debt to a group of Russian mobsters. With his untimely death, the debt was passed on to Ripley who now has no choice but to follow through with the heist they insist he go through to pay off the debt. And Alexandra is the wedge they are using to force his hand.
Ripley plans to steal two unknown Faberge eggs, jewel encrusted ornaments once owned by the Russian royal family, from the Romanovs, a high class Russian jeweler. The eggs are located in their high tech vault. But this is no ordinary vault. This one is voice and fingerprint activated just to get inside the first set of doors. The even bigger problem, the main vault door itself, will take more to crack but only after they get past the security system in place first.
The pair make their plans and plot out everything they can to bypass all obstacles in their way. But even Ripley knows things can go wrong as he warns Gabriel to plan for the unexpected, to learn to adapt as things move forward.
Eventually the Russians capture Alexandra, now romantically involved with Gabriel, and hold her ransom until the job is finished. With time running out and the NYPD on their trail led by Ripley's long time nemesis Lt. Weber (Robert Forster) as well as the FBI, they must move forward with their plans and succeed.
But in a world of thieves where a code of honor is placed between them, not all parties can be trusted. Not the Russians, not the Romanovs, not the police, not Gabriel and especially not Ripley.
The story moves along at a steady pace, giving the necessary information to keep you up to speed with the plans and the plot. The romance here doesn't interfere with the story and actually helps set up characters and affections for later.
Some may claim that the storyline and portions of it seem lifted from other films or familiar but the fact is when it comes to heist films there is little to differentiate one from another with the exception of the acting and pacing. Both are commendable in this film.
Freeman does a great job as the wizened pro who knows the ropes and how to steer clear of a prison sentence. Banderas comes along for the ride and seems to be enjoying himself as he learns Ripley's tricks and applies some of his own along the way. Both actors play well off one another coming off as co-conspirators rather than settling for the old passing the torch along mentality seen in so many films with characters of different ages.
The film offers an entertaining evening should you choose to rent it. For fans of both actors its worth adding to your collection. And it stands as proof positive that you can't judge a DVD based on the popularity of the film prior to its release. First Look Pictures has done a great job with this one. My hope is that they continue to do so in the future.
The movie is a standard heist film - Antonio Banderas plays Gabriel aka Gaby, an armed bandit who encounters Morgan Freeman's character, Ripley whilst pulling off a robbery on a subway train. Ripley sees potential in the relatively younger Gaby and persuades him to join him in a heist at the famous Romanov's Jewelers. The objects of desire are two prized Faberge eggs whose existence have never been officially acknowledged but which Ripley assures Gaby are very much in existence and priceless [well, about 40 million]. Anyway, as Gaby agrees to be Ripley's sidekick, he finds himself falling for Ripley's Russian goddaughter [played by Radha Mitchell]. Things get more complicated when a detective resentful of not being able to convict Ripley for his past heists starts putting the heat on the pair, despite being warned off by the Feds [who are investigating the Russian jewelers]. When Radha Mitchell's character gets kidnapped, Ripley and Gaby are forced to race against time to pull off the heist of a lifetime with some interesting plot twists along the way.
What worked for me - the acting was credible on the whole, despite the unimaginative and at times, implausible plot. There is no genuine chemistry between Freeman and Banderas, and the pairing seems awkward. The story itself is uninspired - there have been so many other heist movies that were much better than this, and so I felt let down by the writing and the direction.
What does work is the chemistry between Banderas and Mitchell. Radha Mitchell is a very attractive actress and she pulls off her role convincingly, playing a rather enigmatic character who seems to know more than she is letting on. The pair sizzle on-screen which helps the romance part of the movie,which happens to be another focus in this film. The heist part of the movie is rather weak, though the action picks up when Ripley and Gaby finally break into the jewelers, though once again, there is nothing new here.
On the whole, I'd recommend this as a rental at best - like I mentioned earlier, there are much better heist movies out there and "The Code" does not bring anything new to the table.
Plenty of homages here, even down to the dance scene from Basic Instinct. They put the same shirt on Banderas as Douglas, and a sexier more revealing dress on Mitchell - both grinding to some rave music. A very similar scene from Entrapment but Banderas instead of Zeta-Jones, and the list continues. There are also some mad Russians, ego-driven Federal officers, and rebellious NYPD hot shots filling the supporting ranks. What makes this watchable is wondering where the twists might come in and seeing if they can pull off the impossible heist.
The Blu clarity looks great at times, average in various other indoor scenes. The music makes the 5.1 get utilized the most, and the supplements add a dry logistical feel to the rest. The cast interviews are forgettable and mismanaged, and the documentary gives some generic insight on production. Normally I would rate this similar in stars to the other reviewer, but the entire package makes for an enjoyable evening, filled with memorable scenes and Radha Mitchell finally playing an erotic rated R role.
Famous art thief Ripley (Morgan Freeman) recruits jewel thief Gabriel Martin (Antonio Banderas) to help him pull an impossible heist. Gabriel falls for Alexandra (Radha Mitchell) a friend of Ripley's. Meanwhile Lt. Weber (Robert Forster) is investigating Ripley, knowing he is going to rob a rich Russian living in NYC.
The film moved quickly and kept me entertained. I enjoyed the acting and the dialouge with its innuendos. It is light enough of a crime thriller for the ladies to enjoy. The characters remind you, "Don't assume anything."
Parental Guide: Brief F-bombs, sex, and nudity, but not excessive. Each in itself might constitute a PG-13 rating but collectively they would get an "R." Was that Banderas' naked butt in that love scene or a body double? I am guessing a double.