It’s a devilish contemporary thriller, fresh and engaging, that would surely stand on a world platform.
Dan Spielman plays Jesse Banks, a Canberra-based political journo for online publication Password. Ned is furtively handed documents by the Prime Minister’s Director of Communications, Sophie Walsh (Chelsie Preston Crayford) designed to undermine a Minister. But the envelope includes an extra clue that piques his interest in a developing crime involving two indigenous teenagers in the outback.
He has his brother Jesse (Ashley Zukerman), who suffers from Aspergers, hack into computer systems to delve for more clues and they stumble onto a jumbled video revealing the death of one of the teens in a truck. But in doing so it puts a target on their back -it’s not initially clear from whom.
In the outback town on Lindara, Alex Wisham (Lucy Lawless) is reeling from the death of one of her students. Ex-partner policeman Tim Simons (Aaron Pedersen) works towards unraveling a possible murder case, without realising it is much bigger than anything he has dealt with before.
The crime goes all the way to the PM’s Chief of Staff Randall Keats (Aden Young) -and I will say no more. Key characters also include the Deputy PM Ian Bradley (David Wenham), Password editor Perry Benson (Adam Garcia), hacker Hani Parande (Adele Perovic) plus roles by Dan Wyllie, Paul Tassone, Steve Rodgers and Aaron McGrath. Yes it’s an impressive cast, befitting the razor-sharp script by writer Shelley Birse (Love is a Four Letter Word) -it recently won an AWGIE Award.
Director Shawn Seet (Underbelly, Love Child, The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, MDA) has imbued this high-tech drama with plenty of steely resolve. From the dusty outback roads to the fog rising off Lake Burley Griffin, it’s dense in its visual language of wide shots and pulled focus. Multi-tasked screens of computers, phones, emails and SMS messages are cleverly super-imposed on the screen beside the actors.
Dan Spielman, who impressed in An Accidental Soldier, steps up in a role that juggles the emotion required as a brother-carer, and the mystery driving the plot. Ashley Zukerman (Rush) is utterly outstanding as the brother unable to filter too much sensory information at one time. Lucy Lawless, unrecognisable from more famous roles, provides the emotional heart without over-egging things.
The Code has also enjoyed significant access for filming at Parliament House, Canberra, helping to make this a credible, modern saga. While it doesn’t show allegiance to a particular side of politics, it’s unnerving to think such manipulation and covert affairs are taking place underneath its flagpole.
For ABC and Playmaker Media to make something so contemporary is bloody brilliant (is this our own Spooks?).
Don’t miss it.
The Code premieres 8:30pm Sunday on ABC.