MSRP $26.98
STUDIO Lionsgate
RUNNING TIME 88 minutes
• Digital copy

The Pitch
Sexy Canadians protect the world’s last oil preserve with witty banter and MMA fighting.

The Humans
Ty Olsson, Patrick Gallagher, Michelle Harrison, Cristina Rosato, Greyston Holt, Christine Horne, Bryan Dick

The Nutshell
In 2045 A.D., a steadily shrinking ice cap leaves several countries struggling for control of the town of Borealis and the last untapped oil, gas, and mineral deposits on the planet. Vic, a former ultimate fighter, has bribed and manipulated his way into a a position of authority, and controls the only way in or out. When the UN sends in corrupt officials, Vic must take matters into his own hands by returning to his roots and challenging a local Russian group to a cage fight, with the fate of Borealis hanging in the balance.

The Lowdown
Survival Code (originally titled Borealis by people who are much better at naming things) is the pilot for a television show dealing with the shaky political climate surrounding the far North outpost of Borealis, which sits on the last untapped oil and mineral reserves in the entire world.

Unfortunately, Space (the Canadian television network responsible for the cancellation of Todd and the Book of Pure Evil, the development of New Coke and the disappearance of the Lindbergh baby [Citation Needed]) did not pick the show up and responded to the outpouring of fan support for it by telling everyone to cut that shit out and getting their Twitter accounts suspended. They then lifted a snifter of brandy to their mustachioed face and cackled madly as they stroked their pet cat and resumed their plans to blow up the moon [Citation Needed].

Survival Code

“Yes, I do expect you to take me seriously when I wear this hat.”

If you somehow manage to get past Survival Code’s atrocious box art (it features two soldiers in snow camouflage holding assault rifles, helicopters dropping paratroopers onto a pipeline, and a frozen city; it rivals the exploding helicopter on the cover of Undisputed on the “outright lying to your potential customers” scale) and the generic SyFy Channel Original Movie title (I’m just going to call it Borealis for the rest of the review) then you’ll find a rather appealing premise for a TV show.

The set-up is like a mix of Deadwood and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, falling somewhere in-between thematically. It floats several potential future plot-lines that touch on the political goings-on of Borealis, but also the dystopian future in which the series takes place.

A Norwegian archaeologist was pushed from a helicopter for finding proof that the Russians’ claim to the land was bunk. Russian poachers are killing endangered animals for their pelts. A particularly volatile and untraceable strain of methamphetamine is giving people violent drug trips. A possibly corrupt League of Nations envoy is threatening to take control of the region. The lieutenant of the Canadian armed forces detachment in Borealis is looking for an excuse to take Vic out of power. A prostitute cares for a man who was killed and brought back to life by a nanobot treatment. An American archaeologist is seeking to overthrow the Russians by proving they are lying about their claim to the land.

All of the these plot points are introduced but not even slightly tied up by the end of Borealis’ one-hour running time. The only bit that is wrapped up involves a Russian that looks like a cross between Hugo Weaving and Arnold Schwarzenegger challenging a Canadian solider to a cage match that will obviously turn fatal in the Russian’s favor. Vic is forced to incapacitate the soldier and take his place in the fight. This is the pilot and he’s the main character so after taking a heroic ass-kicking he turns the tide, beats the Russian, and the credits roll.


Behold: The Future!

If there’s any reason I wish this show would have succeeded it’s Ty Olsson. He’s got kind of a Michael Keaton by way of Ben Browder thing going on and he oozes charisma. He’s got that sarcastic cowboy swagger that the male leads of this sort of show normally have. but there’s the great Kurt Russell-ish quality to his personality that makes him instantly loveable. Olsson’s chemistry with Vic’s straight-faced sidekick Taq, played by Ptrick Gallagher, creates some of the funniest moments, but he plays off all of the other cast member (all of whom turn in great performances well) successfully.

Survival Code isn’t the best stand-alone feature and it’s largest appeal lies in what might have been more than what is, but it’s a nice little oddity and if you’re a fan of this sort of thing you still might consider checking it out.

The Package
There are no special features but you do get an Ultraviolet extra copy for your trouble. The disc has English subtitles.


Out of a Possible 5 Stars