It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
The ads for "Code of Silence" look schlocky, and Chuck Norris is still identified with a series of grade-zilch karate epics, but this is a heavy-duty thriller - a slick, energetic movie with good performances and a lot of genuine human interest. It grabs you right at the start with a complicated triple-cross, and then it develops into a stylish urban action picture with sensational stunts. How sensational? How about an unfaked fight on top of a speeding elevated train, ending when both fighters dive off the train into the Chicago River?
The stunts are great, but not surprising; Chuck Norris is famous for the stunts he features in all of his movies. What is surprising is the number of interesting characters in "Code of Silence." The screenplay doesn't give us the usual cardboard clichés; there's a lot of human life here, in a series of carefully crafted performances. For once, here's a thriller that realizes we have to care about the characters before we care about their adventures.
Chuck Norris stars as a veteran Chicago vice cop named Cusack. He's a straight arrow, an honest cop that his partners call a "one-man army." As the film opens, he's setting up a drug bust, but a Latino gang beats him to it, stealing the money and the drugs and leaving a roomful of dead gangsters. That sets off a Chicago mob war between the Italian and Latino factions, and as bodies pile up in the streets, Cusack begins to worry about the daughter of a Mafia chieftain - a young artist named Diana (Molly Hagan) who wants nothing to do with her father's business, but finds she can't be a bystander. After an elaborate cat-and-mouse chase through the Loop, she's kidnapped and Cusack wants to save her.
Meanwhile, the movie has an interesting subplot about a tired veteran cop (Ralph Foody) who accidentally has shot and killed a Latino kid while chasing some mobsters through a tenement. The veteran's young partner (Joseph Guzaldo) watches him plant a gun on the dead kid and claim that the shooting was in self-defense. It's up to the rookie, backed up by Cusack, to decide what he'll say at the departmental hearing.