Code Red: The Rubicon Conspiracy (1999)

(aka, Code Red)

This sort of thing happens all of the time:

I spend a lot of time looking for movies to watch.  When I stumbled across Survivor (1999) online, I looked through the available reviews to find out whether it might be worth a watch and ended up reading one from a fellow (nameless) critic at Memory Movies: it listed a handful of UPN movies he’d loved, including one I’d reviewed before, Monster!; Primal Force (with Ron Perlman); and this film.  This sent me off to find all four, although I’ll admit that I didn’t love most of them as much as he did.

Now you’ve heard me sound off on Sci Fi (SyFy) Network originals before, which can best be summed up this way: most of them are pretty dreadful, but here and there you can find one which overcomes its limitations and manages to be something better.

Mind you, a lot of those started life as Indie films before getting rebadged, but, hey, even their more commercial efforts will surprise you now and then.

And, of course, that happened a lot more often in their early, pre-Asylum, pre-Crocosaurus days.

Now, as I’ve discussed elsewhere, UPN was a failed attempt at starting a Fifth Broadcast Network and didn’t last very long.  Ironically, most of UPN’s science fiction films ended up as “Originals” on Sci Fi, where all four of these would probably still have been better than average.

Well, except perhaps Code Red.

Although it really isn’t that bad — as low-budget TV movie “B” science fiction films go.

The military is in a panic because a top-secret base, where they’ve been doing research on a crashed alien spacecraft and the creatures that came with it, went dark.

And, even worse, someone triggered the failsafe device, which is about to blow a sizable hole in Africa (or was it South America?  I can’t remember, somewhere with a lot of jungles) unless someone shuts it down.

We’ve all seen B-Movies before, so we know what this means: time to go get “the one man for the job.”

However, this “the one man for the job,” Lt. James Doyle, was kicked out of the Army by the General who’s running the project.  Mind you, he also blames his brother, who just happens to have been the leader of the commando team sent in to find out what went wrong.

All of whom, naturally, are dead.  Or missing.

Doyle has gone decidedly native, and makes enough to get very drunk on from his new profession, milking deadly serpents.  This leads to a particularly funny moment involving a snake which ends up in the wrong place.

But don’t worry, Doyle is “the one man for the job,” so it doesn’t take him long to end up all cleaned up and leading the usual commando team — his old crew — into the jungle, after the rebels who supposedly attacked the research lab.

But then they start finding a lot of dead people who died in a very strange way.

And the next thing you know, they’re under attack by strange creatures and some sort of…

Well, they call it a cyborg.  But it really just looks like a guy with a helmet on.

Now, if you had any doubts about the low-rent B-Movie origins of this thing, you would have them settled once you got a glimpse of the bits which have been borrowed from Predator and Aliens, like the familiar tracking the aliens on the handheld device but not being able to see them scene, or the moment when everyone shoots wildly into the jungle.

But they do manage one moderately interesting twist, and throw in a few shocking revelations (many of which we’d guessed already) by the end.

Oh, well, even if this was a TV movie from a desperate wannabe network, it has a certain charm to it if you can keep your expectations low enough.  It’s not brilliant, it has more than its share of dumb moments and it is very familiar.

But that describes a lot of pretty good B-Movies…



Check out our new Feature (Updated June 11, 2020):

The Rivets Zone:  The Best SF Movies You’ve Never Seen!



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