Words: Brody Rossiter
STARTED FROM THE OUTBACK…
Australian conspiracy thriller, The Code, proves that no longer are the Nordic nations the sole purveyors of all things dark, deadly, and ultimately deeply engaging when it comes to foreign television dramas.
Beginning its deceitful narrative upon the barren Australian outback and tracking the trail of a deadly car crash into the upper echelons of Canberra’s political corridors of power, The Code focuses upon brothers Ned and Jesse Banks. Ned, an internet journo, and Jesse a proficient hacker, find themselves in possession of a video that carries both a great deal of power and danger. After electing to dig deeper into the video’s origins with the aid of Alex (Lucy Lawless), the brothers find themselves surrounded by government secrecy. How will the highly contrasting pair deal with their newfound status as crusaders for truth?
What immediately becomes evident when watching The Code is the show’s sense of ambition. So often Australian productions project a familiar earthy aesthetic. From the sweaty gore of horror flicks such as Wolf Creek, to the ethereal spirituality of Jane Campion’s recent episodic drama series, Top of the Lake, such stylistic choices are proficient and consistently affecting but a somewhat safe and increasingly familiar haven for the country’s writers and directors. Once again our journey begins upon the burning asphalt of the outback, but quickly the audience is transported to the cold and clinically corrupt capital of Canberra. Creator and writer Shelley Birse’s relentless pacing and focus upon media manipulation, the power of technology, and government corruption have ensured that The Code has reached a world stage leaving a wake of glowing critical recommendations in its wake – and deservedly so.
Despite the restrictions of a budget under scrutiny and a historically ‘off limits’ attitude on the part of Parliament House to camera crews, Birse has not only managed to gain access to the heart of the Australian political system but weave a potent fictional narrative around its significant architecture. Sporting a fantastic cast of proven television stars, accomplished writing and attractive yet divergent visuals, The Code is perhaps Australia’s finest export of 2014.