Movie review: Source Code
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action/Adventure
Opens Friday, April 1st, 2011
Run Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes, Rated PG-13
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright
Directed by Duncan Jones (Moon)
“Source Code” is the smart, focused, and thoroughly entertaining new movie from Duncan Jones, who in his 2nd feature film, shows a real talent for timing, pacing, and characterization. It’s a good time out at the movies, although for those who struggle with science fiction plot-lines even as basic as “Back To the Future” (you know who you are…), it may be a bit too smart for it’s own good.
The Plot. “Source Code” is the kind of film where I can’t divulge too many plot details or I’ll spoil the fun. What I can say is that someone has bombed a Chicago commuter train in a deadly terrorist attack. A faction of our military has developed a way too complicated to describe here procedure, where we can send a soldier back to inhabit another person’s body for up to 8 minutes at a time. Jake Gyllenhaal plays our soldier, and he is sent back into the body of a man on the train just minutes before the explosion takes place. With 50 some passengers on the train, he must piece together clues to uncover where the bomb is, and who detonated it. Every 8 minutes? He returns to “real life”, where he can be sent back again over and over. They are up against a wall though…as the terrorist is planning another attack in downtown Chicago soon, and if they don’t find the bomber soon, more lives are at stake.
Source Material. I’m sure I won’t be the first one to reference the classic Bill Murray film “Groundhog Day” when referring to “Source Code.” “Source Code” can basically be summed up as a cross between “Groundhog Day” and maybe Steven Segal’s “Under Siege.” As our soldier is sent back time after time, the same events happen over and over, until he masters them. Much like “Groundhog Day”, our hero falls in love, but is helpless in preventing the never-ending loop of events. He is sent with a mission at hand, but this time he has his own agenda as well, and uses his 8 minutes wisely to determine just what the hell is going on.
Déjà vu All Over Again. I mentioned in my review last month of “The Adjustment Bureau” that the best sci-fi movies work when we can believe in the unbelievable. What I mean is, we of course have to suspend our disbelief, but we need the movie to make sense using it’s own rules. Well, “Source Code” is a well-thought out and solid film, and I’ve yet to poke holes in it’s logic. I also wrote in that review that sometimes the ending of a film can turn it from good to great (think “The Usual Suspects”), or from great to bad (think “Magnolia”). Again with “Source Code”, the ending is a twist, a very clever one really, that solidifies it as one of the best sci-fi films to be released in quite some time.
Strength of Character. Gyllenhaal too, is an unlikely action hero, but has successfully pulled it off again, following a movie I really liked, in “Prince of Persia.” He has good chemistry with Michelle Monaghan, and somehow amidst all of the action and suspense, these two find time to establish their characters, albeit not too much…just enough to get us to actually give a damn as to if they live or die.
It’s refreshing to see a movie of this genre rely on the script and the performances, rather than big intense action sequences. The movie doesn’t have as much action as you’d think, and when there is action it is well-done and necessary. I for one, was impressed.
Cracking the Code. So you need to see “Source Code”, a popcorn movie that doesn’t dumb it down. You will have to think a bit, I’m afraid. Who knew that a high-brow movie could pull off such mass appeal?
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