Source Code (2011)

April 07, 2011 By Mike B
Movie Review

What Worked?

History is never done with us. It may give us hints, blue-prints, and maybe even full control of the future. What if there was a technological advancement that allowed us to literally delve into the past for a little more than a handful of minutes? Terrorist attacks could be averted, criminals could be easily proven guilty, and lives could be saved.  In Duncan Jones’ second feature film, Source Code, a soldier is placed in the consciousness of a dead man to gather Intel about the train explosion that killed him and many others. Jones is as sharp as ever, providing more proof that he’s a force to be felt, and Jake Gyllenhaal gives a frantic, heart-felt performance that compliments the wickedly layered story of a man trying to save the future by using the past.

Director Duncan Jones is quickly making a glowing name for himself as a Sci-Fi specialist of cinema. He switches gears from Moon with this second effort, as the film travels at a break-neck pace. CGI is used appropriately for the disaster scenes, and there are fantastic touches to heighten the paranoia of time spent in the source code, such as fragmenting character’s appearances, and the use of reflections. There are also masterful editing touches that poetically compliment the emotion of the protagonist; for example, a freeze frame of a certain emotional scene. Overall, Duncan Jones and his team use style with purpose.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Col. Colter Stevens, a soldier that’s placed into the consciousness of a dead passenger of a train explosion, named Sean. Gyllenhaal, as Col. Stevens,  is plugged into a struggle to find the bomber at all costs. Viewers can constantly feel the pain in his eyes, mixed with confusion from an overload of intricate details and complex lies. He makes us want to see him solve the numbing puzzle that he’s in, and find some redemption. Gyllenhaal is desperate in his actions, and is the audiences medium to scrape at whatever truth is in the source code, if there’s any truth at all. Playing Goodwin, a soldier that guides Col. Stevens, is Vera Farmiga and she is a by-the-books worker that relies on her heart when it counts. Michelle Monaghan plays Christina, the love interest, and she comes off as an intelligent, everyday woman looking for change. The entire cast is so determined in their roles that they even sell the preposterous and cliche aspects of the script.

Source Code is an intellectual mind-bender that will truly give your brain a jolting exercise. Despite being an action Sci-Fi, the film is always grounded by heart, specifically the emotion of regret and how we fail to act upon it in the moment. The film shows us how important “doing” is because we don’t have a reset button, just one go-around. Our regrets in the past, which are rooted in the lack of appreciation for life, have the ability to be an essential push for us to “do” in whatever future we may be given, so we should never forget it. It also takes on the controversy of the advancement of technology slowly eclipsing our concern with the human condition. The film is a sharp, inventive ride that may influence you to take a look at your life and ask one question: “What would you do if you knew you only had one minute to live?”

Potential Drawbacks:

The film doesn’t truly make sense all the time, and may be confusing for some. There is expository dialogue to explain the situation, but the film keeps blasting away that you have to keep track of all the details (although, it’s not as bad as Primer).

Source Code will also definitely raise some questions by the end, and some may not agree of the choice of where they ended the film. Also, like any other complex Sci-Fi films, there are some plot holes that may drag the film down a bit, but for most it can be ignored.

One more thing: it owes a “thank you” or two to Quantum Leap

Film Recommendations:

12 Monkeys
Run Lola Run

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