Sunday, April 10, 2011

Source Code, an intellectually and emotionally compelling sci-fi action thriller

Source Code, A-

Source Code is the new film from Duncan Jones, David Bowie’s son who makes his big studio follow-up to (deservedly) well acclaimed indie film Moon. I’m going to avoid writing about the plot as to not spoil it, and to be clear just about every aspect of the plot would be a spoiler.

Here’s a decently spoiler free bit SXSW wrote about the film’s plot:
“When soldier Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up in the body of an unknown man, he discovers he’s part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train. In an assignment unlike any he’s ever known, he learns he’s part of a government experiment called the “Source Code,” a computer program that enables him to cross over into another man’s identity in the last 8 minutes of his life.”

While Inception is certainly a stronger more innovative film, Source Code does exactly what Inception failed to do, pull deeply at my heart. Inception sadly fell into caricatures, however Source Code’s tight writing (by Ben Ripley) drew vivid interesting and surprisingly subtle characters who all fascinated me. Jake Gyllenhaal of course lead the pack, but Michelle Monaghan and Vera Farmiga turned in equally compelling performances. 

The main discussion of this movie is the same as Groundhog Day, getting a single experience right. I’ve already seen this discussed in various reviews so I feel no need to re-hash what they said (I have nothing new to bring to the table). What really intrigued me about the film is its realism. The manner in which people coldly take advantage of Stevens is shocking. The way he deals with this is more fascinating than inspiring, which is a-okay by me.

I walked into this movie blind. The plot fascinated me, and much more importantly I was emotionally taken by Stevens and his strange romance with Christina. I understand why some may complain their love isn’t justified, but I wouldn’t say Jones is claiming they’re in love. Stevens is more doing something for Christina than himself, she does have feelings for this guy he’s supposed to be.

In clear summation, this movie is both emotionally and intellectually compelling, a rare feat for a big budget sci-fi action thriller. I highly recommend it to any interested parties, especially to see it in theaters (thank god it’s not in 3-D).


The ending was quite puzzling. In a sense, it seemed like we were being coached to root for Goodwin to cut off his life support. Is it just me, or were many others pretty ambivalent about the situation? Yes the government is forcing Stevens to do missions for them and such, but isn’t he being rewarded with life? Is that really so bad? Frankly, it doesn’t sound like such a bad deal. I’m not sure if I’d want it, but I also think it’s not an easy answer.

Check out Duncan Jones' Twitter here

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