Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cinema - Source Code

or: Eight minutes.

One word to sum it up: "Trippy"

Duncan Jones burst onto the film scene in 2009 with his brilliant sci-fi debut, Moon. I was quite impressed with his first directorial was much better than I expected from someone who has never handled a feature film before. Of course, after that, Duncan Jones had some pretty big expectations to live up to. So what better to do than make a complicated 'blockbuster' type film starring a lovely Jake Gyllenhaal that causes one to look at the fine line between reality and something out of this world? I gotta be the one to say it: Duncan Jones has the potential to be one of the finest modern movie-makers with his effort in Source Code. There is absolutely no doubt about that.

Source Code begins with a train. Just a normal train, making it's way through Chicago as normal. On the train we discover a man who has just woken up, a little bit disoriented and not really sure about what is happening. This man believes he is Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal), who flew planes in Afghanistan. But he thinks something is up when a mysterious woman named Christina (Michelle Monaghan) begins talking to him like she's known him his whole life. He goes to a mirror and discovers that he doesn't look at all like he thought he did, and he is actually known as Sean Fentress. Before he can make sense of what is happening, the train blows up. He wakes up in a 'capsule', with another mysterious woman, Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) talking to him through a webcam. Colter finds out that he is actually part of a 'source code', which allows him to go into another mans body in the last eight minutes of his life. The purpose of this? Colter may be able to find the person who bombed the train he was on and prevent that person from doing another attack. But as Colter returns to the train over and over again, he realises that he doesn't just want to find the bomber, he wants to save the people on the train, which he is told isn't possible.

You'd think that having to relive essentially the same eight minutes over and over again would get boring. No, that's not the case here. Yes, the setting gets familiar, but it never gets boring. That is the first reason why Be Ripley's script rocks. Here he has created something quite elaborate, but hasn't really left many plot holes. In saying that, he also didn't get too caught up in trying to explain things all in one go...we learn as Colter learns. In fact, we go through this movie as if we were Colter. Which is a cool experience, because I felt, to a degree, that I was a part of the source code thing too, and that was fun. The story is puzzling and challenging, always keeping the audience on their toes while still having a good time. There's never really a dull moment. I do admit to laughing quite a few times and even bawling my eyes out crying towards the end. But once the big plot twist was revealed, I felt like I was bolted to the screen, suddenly ready for another whirl. It's a short and snappy film, but my God, I could have taken some more. The way Duncan Jones ties everything up is nice too. He had a really good way of directing this, using some really good editing and small symbols throughout the film for the audience to piece together.

Another reason why this film works so well is the fact that it is a fantastic human drama. Sure, having the little romance between Colter/Sean and Christina helped with that a lot, this film really does question a lot of things. It capitalizes on those minutes before everyone dies. Yet, it still asks the viewer what they would do if they were in Colter's situation. Would you try and defy this 'source code' thing so you could save everyone? Since you know what is going to happen, would you try and change it? And there's the ever-present one: Does everything come down to fate? I'm sure that there are little source code's going on around the world...and I'm now taking extra precautions to ensure that I know that everything just comes the way it is...not because I'm stuck in a source code.

Performance-wise, this movie is very strong. The main cast is very small, but I've gotta hand it to everyone on the train. They stayed on there, with all their different personalities, throughout the whole thing, and managed to hold their characters. Anyway. Jake Gyllenhaal leads the show with his multi-faceted performance. He was compelling, and really provided the movie with the heart it needed in order to succeed. He was a lovable figure, someone I really rooted for in the end, and most of the success of the movie comes down to him, so he did a fantastic job. Michelle Monaghan, though she has starred in a slew of uninspiring films, continues to impress me. She was a cute love interest here, and shows that she is a more capable than most people give her credit for. Jeffrey Wright surprised me with his performance, as he obviously based quite a bit of his performance on the 'mad scientist' myth. He had all of the mannerisms and everything right. But of course, I have to dedicate a small part of this review to the glorious Vera Farmiga. Oh, how I've missed her since Up in the Air. While most of her role is restricted to sitting in front of a computer talking to a webcam, she serves as a great link between Colter and reality. She provides another part of the human touch which went really well in this movie. That human touch which leads me to give this movie a full quota of stars...risky choice, I know, but this movie was damn impressive.

THE VERDICT: A puzzling, complicated premise sprawled out over fantastic script-work from Ben Ripley ensures that Source Code is not only an entertaining blockbuster, but it is a great human drama. Duncan Jones does a marvellous job of directing a really well-performed, exciting thriller.

What I hoped for:

What I got:


  1. Yay, glad Duncan Jones does a good job, I have high hopes for him :) Looking forward to watching this film.

  2. Fantastic promising review! I can't wait to see this film on DVD.

  3. I thought this was very good as well, and would probably rate it 8/10. Though I thought a few times in the film Ripley's script was cheesy, but other than that an all around good film. Except personally I thought Jones' debut "Moon" was far better. Great review!

  4. Emma - I can tell that, with another great film, Duncan Jones will officially be one of my favourite directors. Source Code and Moon show a lot of promise...he just needs one more film to become a master!

    Lesya - You'll probably love it, since it is a lot like Inception!

    Matt - I can see where you got the cheesiness from. But that didn't really bother me. I need to watch Moon again. I was quite impressed with it the first time, but another watch would be good. Thanks!

  5. A well-paced and structured sci-fi thriller that's as complex as it is clear-headed. Also, Gyllenhaal shows again why exactly he really is one of the better leading men out there, and proves he still has that charm. Good Review!

  6. Source Code (2011) is a masterfully crafted sci-fi action thriller that catapults viewers into the mind-bending world of time travel and second chances. If you wants blogs related to business, healthcare, etc.


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