Source Code – Review
April 3, 2011 6 Comments
Directed by Duncan Jones. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga
Source Code is a smart, suspenseful Sci-Fi action/thriller which takes the concept behind the hit comedy “Groudhog Day” and mixes it with some Twilight-Zone-Style elements in Hollywood style, for the post “Inception” era (I know it sounds like a weird hybrid…) and somehow makes it the most exciting and original film I’ve seen this year.
As always the least you know about the film the better it is, but having said that, there are so many facets to Source Code, so many twists and turns that unless I sit down and tell you everything about it, you’ll still be surprised. But let me just tell you the rough plot, or at least the first few minutes.
Capt. Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) suddenly wakes up on a train in a state of complete confusion: the last thing he remembers is crashing his plane in Afghanistan and yet know he’s inside the body of a man named Sean. Across from him is Christina (Michelle Monaghan) who clearly knows him and yet he has no memory of her or any of the other people on the train heading to Chicago. Eight minutes later a bomb goes off and everyone on the train dies.
Colter wakes up again, this time he’s in a dark pod-like structure looking at a monitor with the face of a superior officer (Vera Farmiga), explaining to him that he’s part of a government experiment used to stop terrorism. Through a process called “Source Code”, Colter gets sent back (again and again and again) eight minutes before the moment before the explosion went off, find out where the bomb is and who set it and prevent a later and far greater attack by the same person in downtown Chicago.
Part of the fun of “Source Code” is watching our hero (Jake Gyllenhaal) re-live the same 8 minutes over and over again, each time in a slightly different way, each time getting closer and closer to the truth!
There are a couple of small clunky moments here and there (the biggest of which, is the scene, full of exposition, where we get told what “source code” is), but the sheer inventiveness, the fast pace and the emotional burden that the film carries are far greater that those little imperfections.
There are some debates about its ending (don’t worry, I’m not going to reveal it here). There is a point where you might think the film has actually ended: I’m referring to the long freeze frame (you’ll know what I mean when you see the film) and in fact it could have easily ended there, which would have made the film much more poignant and arguably better, but then the film carries on… and just when you think “Oh no, another Hollywood ending), the film takes a surprising final turn and gives you a few (slightly) unexpected twists right till the last moment and makes up for what you thought it was one of those “re-filmed-ending” after failed test screening.
There’s nothing better than a good unexpected ending! In the theatre where I watched it, it got everybody talking!
I haven’t had such fun watching a film in a very long time.
It’s a bit unfair to compare this with Inception (but it seems like everybody else is doing it). They are two completely different films and their only similarity is the fact that they both make you think and requires you to do some work while watching the story unfold.
However “Source Code” is an emotionally charged film too (while Inception, as we’ve all noticed, was a tiny bit cold); I was almost moved to tears in couple of scenes and yet, the film still managed to have a lot of humor throughout (courtesy of Mr Gyllenhaal’s perfectly pitched performance).
What else can I say? I loved it! It might not be as stylish and fresh as Moon was (Duncan Jones’s previous film). This is certainly a bigger Hollywood fair, and a much more crowd-pleasing roller-coaster, but if you regard cinema as entertainment, you can’t get better than this!