Code of Silence Reviews
Better-than-average Norris vehicle, where this time Chuck becomes more of a Dirty Harry character. Nothing great, but it's well made and offers a surprising amount of laughs.
Though not the biggest fan of Chuck Norris films I know what I like to see, and Code of Silence failed to live up to the reasonably average level of expectations I had.
Code of Silence marks Chuck Norris' transition from being a martial arts star to a more typical 80's action hero. While he still maintains his ass kicking skills, the story around him fails to make use of them. Laid into the generic roots of countless action films of the 1980's and 1990's raging from Cobra (1986) to Out for Justice (1991), Code of Silence stands as one of the earlier examples of films to rely so heavily on such tropes. As a result, the film goes along a meandering path of crime based plot dynamics which fail to cry out for innovation. I wasn't expecting any sort of groundbreaking story, but I hoped that there would at least be a higher standard for storytelling for Code of Silence to be considered among Chuck Norris' best.
As a Chuck Norris vehicle, the generic contract promised by a film like Code of Silence where its star is seen grasping a weapon on the promotional material is that it will hopefully be a fun action vehicle. In actual fact, Code of Silence spends so much time fretting over a generic story which offers little creativity outside of its action scenes that occur between extensive periods of boring story-building. The minimal focus on action ends up betraying the expectations of viewers by fretting over characters and narrative even though the story is predictable and the characters are shallow archetypes. There is an abundance of different characters in the film with varying relevance, but as the film doesn't offer a brilliant story it is hardly an entertaining journey to keep up with it all. The one gimmick the film offers is the fact that for some reason, Chuck Norris is teamed up with a robotic counterpart this time. It doesn't make any kind of spectacular combo with him or introduce any special kind of science fiction combat, but the general existence of it in Code of Everything is so strange that it makes the film memorable. Yet at the same time, the ridiculous nature of this plot point contradicts the fact that the rest of Code of Silence is so obsessed with taking itself seriously. Perhaps Andrew Davis aspires for his film to be something more, but there are too much limitations imposed on him this time. That kind of ambition paid offer later in his career as he went onto helm the extensively successful Under Siege (1992) and Academy Award winning The Fugitive (1993), so perhaps Code of Silence is a step in the right direction for the filmmaker. But where his career would later go proves better than what he churns out with Code of Silence. His sense of good action makes sense of this film, but there is nothing special in terms of script. I guess he does what he can to make the best of the material and so his work is somewhat admirable in progressing him towards creating greater productions, so there is mild value in his role as the director.
Among them are his work in ensuring there is a modicum of stylish value on Code of Silence. As far as Chuck Norris vehicles go there are certainly strong production values behind Code of Silence since the overall visual quality of the film in terms of cinematography transcends the standard set by the countless B-movies that Chuck Norris has gained a legacy for. Rather than sit in a singular place and just wait for everything to happen, the cinematography in Code of Silence makes an effort to follow along with everything as it occurs to capture it with strong detail, and this works to intensify things some of the time. It's a slight improvement over lesser Chuck Norris ventures, but slight enough to improve the overall experience.
And of course, the action scenes are the best moments in the film. Captured with effective cinematography and edited timely, the action in Code of Silence varies between predominantly a series of shootouts and some occasional hand to hand combat. In the case of the latter the fight scenes have the same repetitive sound bytes being used again and again whenever the attacks land contact, but Chuck Norris' talent for all kinds of creative kicks and punches transcends that with pure visual gusto. And in the case of the former, the man has no problem grasping a weapon. There are few other cast members who make the same kind of action impact, but as a Chuck Norris vehicle there is not too much of a problem with this most of the time. But then again, it would be good if he got to fight a valiant foe rather than the same basic criminal stock characters again and again. When I think back to Code of Silence I struggle to remember a single point in time where Chuck Norris actually said anything. But then again, his line delivery is rarely part of his gimmick. In Code of Silence it is mostly about him parading around in a leather jacket with intense facial expressions before jumping in on the action. He keeps the appearance of a badass and delivers the goods during any action scenes which means that he at least lives up to the standards viewers are likely to have for him, even if the filmmakers fail to do the same for his skills. He manages to keep himself in the appropriate state of mind for the character consistently and is swift with his energy, so he headlines Code of Silence with enough skill to make it mildly memorable.
So Code of Silence brings in an intense performance from Chuck Norris and some entertaining moments of action, but both are spread out too sporadically over the course of a story which takes itself way too seriously despite relying on formulaic writing and uninteresting characters.
(1985) Code of Silence
My favorite Chuck Norris film so far, I'm assuming that it was between this film and "Lonewolf McQuade" that motivated studios to give him his own syndicated tv show called "Walker, Texas Ranger". This is the Chuck Norris equivalent version of "Dirty Harry" and "Bullitt", a cop who will not conform to certain rules or practices that don't agree with the overall majority. It is extremely fast pace, whereas at the beginning opens with a drug bust gone wrong, where several undercover policeman are involved eventually leading up to something more dangerous involving drug cartels. The reason this film works is the build up to the action sequences and that they looked realistically real. Some of the highlights include a car chase scene underneath a bridge, martial arts, ending it off with a long gun sequence in a warehouse, that was echoed again for the 1987 film called "RoboCop"!!
This film also has alot of subtle social commentaries as well which were used for Paul Verhoeven's RoboCop like the problem with allowing technology to replace our 'law enforcers', and police officers who should be on retirement. Because it was made during the 80's what this film also has is realism, in which no CGI had ever been used but with some camera trickery and camera angles.
This is also my favorite Andrew Davis film who's filmography is most consistent with the action film genre. Seeing this film multiple times, I can never get tired of this kind of genre!!
"When I want your opinion, I'll beat it out of you."
With a solid director at the helm this is maybe Chuck's best movie, or at the very least one of his best. Although the plot really doesn't know if it wants to be a police whistle blowing movie on a bent cop, or a organised crime "Untouchables" type of flick, and in the end it tries to do both, which overall makes for a quite cluttered action film. It's entertaining, and well put together enough for a decent watch, but don't expect it to last too long in the memory as I've seen it about 3 times now and each time it's felt like I'm watching something different, which is fine in something complex or layered, but not so much in an 1980's mid-budget Chuck Norris movie.