Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Movie Review: Code of Silence (1985)

I wouldn't say I am a huge Chuck Norris fan, but there are a number of his movies I really enjoy, Delta Force, Missing in Action, Lone Wolf McQuade, and Invasion U.S.A. among them. However, there are a number of other Norris movies, what I consider "second shelf", which are still extremely watchable, and Code of Silence is one of them.

I'm always amused by what movie poster, if any, is used to represent an actor on their IMDb page; Jean Claude Van Damme uses a photo from Hard Target, and Chuck Norris' photo is from the poster for Code of Silence. I've no idea if the actors themselves picked those photos or if some fan just thought it was the best look, but Norris holding a heavily choked 12-gauge shotgun one-handed by its pistol grip is a pretty badass look if you ask me.

Plotwise, the movie isn't terribly complicated. Norris plays Eddie Cusack, a Chicago police sergeant on the tactical team who is going after your typical crime family. Turns out, however, that Cusack and company aren't the only ones; another criminal gang is gunning for them as well. To make matters worse, one of Cusack's subordinates is under suspicion of shooting an innocent teenage boy and planting a pistol on the kid. Cusack is a real straight man, almost a pariah already in his department for walking the straight and narrow too easily. When he speaks out against his fellow officer, the rest of the department shuns him, which isn't good when you're caught up in the middle of a gang war.

Overall, this is a pretty gritty, "realistic" movie. There's plenty of gunplay and martial arts action, car chases and explosions, but I don't consider this movie anywhere near as over-the-top as other Norris movies such as Invasion U.S.A.. Although the movie was made in 1985, it lacks the, for lack of a better term, "brightness" of a movie like Commando. Instead, CoS is a dark, gloomy movie, filled with overcast skies, dingy locations, lots of grimy brick and steel, and a cast of characters that definitely fall outside the usual range of pretty Hollywood faces. The movie looks and feels to me like it should be a decade older than it is, but I don't really consider that a bad thing. The one really oddball factor in this movie is the introduction of a "police robot", a remote-controlled / semi-autonomous wheeled combat system kitted with a frightening array of missiles and heavy machine guns. While this thing is over-armed even for a combat robot in Iraq in 2012, it is utterly ridiculous for Chicago in 1985. Oh, and it might as well have had "Chekhov's Gun" painted across its hull...just saying...

So if you've never caught Code of Silence, give it a try. I found it on my On Demand lineup, but your mileage may vary, of course. You could probably pick it up at Amazon for a song, and if you're a Norris fan, I think it's worth having.


Chris said...

I saw this one in the theater; saw all of these when they came out back in the day. I don't really recall much of it, so I should revisit it. Recently I watched The Octagon again, which, along with An Eye for an Eye were always my favorite Norris movies. It didn't hold up; couldn't stand his whispered voice over.

Will definitely check this one out again, though.

Brian Drake said...

COS, for me, is one of Chuck's first-tier films. He had a good script and a good director and because of that turned in a good performance. Compare this one with anything directed by his brother Aaron and you'll see why Aaron Norris never should be allowed behind a camera.

The robot was a joke. I don't know why it was included. Dirty Harry didn't need no robot!

Ben said...

It's one of my favorite Norris movies. Unadulterated badassery throughout!