Source Code: Reviewed in Limerick
Source Code: Reviewed In Limerick
To prevent a train from being blown away,
Send Donnie Darko on his own Groundhog Day,
It’s sci-fi well done,
By Dave Bowie’s son,
See, clever action is possible Mr. Bay.
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I had almost lost all hope of Hollywood’s willingness to produce movies that could make you think. It seemed that every movie I had been to recently, had stripped scripts of any form of intellect and filled the void with a cocktail of explosions, sex and unwarranted special effects.
While these movies were forcing me to leave my brain at the door in order to enjoy them, Source Code gave me something to think about and kept the brain ticking long after I walked out of the cinema.
Source Code is what a movie should be: interesting, original and highly entertaining.
The film starts with a soldier (Jake Gyllenhaal) waking up on a train, mid-conversation with a woman he doesn’t recognise (Michelle Monaghan) and in a body that isn’t his. After the train blows to pieces, he discovers that the military are allowing him to relive the last eight minutes of a passenger’s life in order to discover the identity of the bomber and prevent a further attack.
It seems that because of the recent success of intelligent sci-fi thrillers (namely Inception), studios are finally growing the balls to invest in original concepts rather than rehashing the same trash.
At its core, Source Code is a traditional sci-fi concept, which simply throws in the fundamental elements of a commercial blockbuster to gain the attention of regular Joes.
In terms of acting, it has a good-looking hero (Gyllenhaal), intelligent female lead (Monaghan), and a talented supporting cast (Vera Farmiga). In addition to the thrilling plot, there’s a romantic tie-in, a father/son relationship, occupational morality checks and reflections on the simple joys in life.
Because Source Code caters to both geek and non-geek alike, it will gain much more exposure than low-budget cult flicks like Primer, Timecrimes or even Gyllenhaal’s other time-travel film, Donnie Darko.
This is the second feature film from director Duncan Jones (yes, David Bowie’s son!), who blew me away with his first feature, Moon. He gives hope to every other sci-fi enthusiast who thought the genre was dead.
The reason Source Code succeeds where something like Zak Snyder’s Sucker Punch failed, is because it doesn’t lose track of the story – he doesn’t disregard substance for style. Jones uses visuals to enhance and explain the concept, while Snyder simply threw together a concept to justify the visuals.
For a writer whose previous credits include Species III and Species: The Awakening, Ben Ripley has crafted an impressive script, which tackles the difficult matter of time-travel.
The biggest risk with time-travel films is being able to climax with an ending that answers all questions, actually makes sense and lives up to expectation of viewers. While the ending of Source Code is a bit of a cop-out, it didn’t end up feeling like a condensed version of Lost.
More so, Ripley and Jones never underestimate the intelligence of their audience. They pre-empt when the eight-minute flashes are getting repetitive and skip through them to speed up the story, and avoid any obvious clues as to who the bomber is or why Gyllenhaal’s character was chosen.
And much like Sam Rockwell in Moon, Jones has cast a talented and likable male lead. Gyllenhaal does well to capture the rollercoaster of emotions that his character experiences; switching from confused, paranoid, charming, sympathetic and completes the package with moments of Bourne-style action.
Ever since Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang I’ve had a massive crush on Michelle Monaghan, and while I’d like to write about how good she was, the truth is that I’d probably sit through The Heartbreak Kid again just for her – so my opinion is probably not valid.
The only cast member that didn’t hit the mark was Jeffrey Wright as the seemingly mad scientist, Dr. Rutledge. While he acted well, it just seemed that his character was forced to fit a stereotypical mould that has been replicated too many times already.
Source Code isn’t a classic by any means, but I give credit where credit’s due in regards to originality. I highly recommend going to check it out, as it’s easily one of the best from this year.
Just make sure you don’t drink too many beers beforehand like I did, because I think I missed a fair chunk while making trips to the toilet.