Eternal Code (2023) Film Review
Harvey Wallen is a relatively new filmmaker who decided to follow his passion for making films. During the last two years, he’s brought to life original stories placing himself in starring roles, and relying on a faithful crew that believe in his vision. Most of his work is exclusively in independent horror, where Wallen has explored several subgenres, and has had the opportunity with some B-movie legends that add whatever’s necessary to his films. This is an indie filmmaker producing indie films, and we know enough of that subject to understand what’s required, what’s acceptable, and where’s the purpose in this very specific kind of cinema.
Wallen’s latest release sees him jump to the thriller universe. In Eternal Code, he doesn’t complicate himself with unnecessary genre additions, or the risky winks at science fiction. Instead, he decides to be conservative and restrains himself to shoot in small set pieces, and most importantly, he does enough to complete his story. One that’s complicated enough to be run in an independent film production.
The film tells the story of corporate corruption and greed when two company executives disagree on the next big step. On one hand, we have the ambitious CEO-like mogul who jumps at the chance of getting rid of all moral attachments, and basically make money. But then we also have the other side to the coin: a businesswoman fixated on moral values, and following her father’s footsteps. She’s the pebble in the shoe that doesn’t let the deal go through.
The “bad guys” does whatever’s at hand to achieve his vision. He kidnaps, murders, and implements unethical technologies in order to make himself powerful. The film runs on this vein, as a war veteran stands against this guy’s journey to fulfill his objective of getting rid of everyone that disagrees with him. At mid-length it turns into a kidnapping film with the usual elements of those stories.
The first half of Eternal Code is presented with too much optimism. Wallen’s introduction to setting and characters is vanilla, heart-filling and strangely compelling. It’s almost another film. Even the fulfilling score fills every scene with false hope, considering what we know is coming: it’s mixed with a plotline involving a powerful executive who wants to get rid of another whose ethics are impeccable.
Weirdly, the film remains on the same note, giving a twist to the usual spirit of the thriller genre. Eternal Code doesn’t waste time with scenes where bullets fly everywhere. Wallen’s film is more contemplative than others, which bodes well for this usual restraint related to budget and production values. In the indie campus, where genre rules apply without the usual strength, the film does a good job.
Wallen’s noticeably comfortable in the writer/director’s chair. His newest release incorporates some known faces like Richard Tyson, Billy Wirth and Scout Taylor-Compton, but they’re companions to a bigger idea. The director doesn’t excessively use their faces to elevate the film, because he understands his limits. Wallen knows what to do and what not to even try. He attempted to do a thriller, and he shows he’s still got a lot to learn. Regardless, a filmmaker should always stay humble, and in the modern indie circle, Wallen stands among the brave who follow ideas to the very end, and execute them without the fear of being scrutinized.