27 jun. 2011

My Review: Source Code (8/10)

¨What would you do if you knew you only had one minute to live?¨

Source Code is a great action thriller directed by David Bowie`s son, Duncan Jones, who is beginning to make a big name for himself in Hollywood. In 2009 Jones directed a small film starring Sam Rockwell called Moon, and it was among my top films of that year. It was a great science fiction thriller that reminded me a lot of Kubrick`s 2001 A Space Odyssey. Jones does very interesting work once again with Source Code; although this time he didn’t come up with the screenplay. This was a much bigger project and Jones probably had to deal with producers this time around. There are some great and inventive moments, but there are others (like in the ending) that remind us that this is another Hollywood popcorn movie. The movie works in most part thanks to a great performance from Jake Gyllenhaal. Source Code ranks among one of his better performances at least in an action film. Due to the premise the story could have become predictable, repetitive, and boring, but thankfully it doesn’t because of the twists (at times it goes entirely a different direction than what we expected) and because Gyllenhaal gives it the freshness it needs. Monaghan didn’t seem to be up to par with Jake, but it doesn’t matter because she was just a supporting character. Some credit has to be given to Ben Ripley, who although being relatively unknown in Hollywood came up with a fresh, innovative, and interesting script. The action thriller worked really well and I hope Hollywood keeps introducing some new and fresh ideas like they did with Source Code.

Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a soldier who from one moment to the next goes from being in a helicopter in Afghanistan to finding himself on a train in Chicago with the identity of another person. Stevens doesn’t understand what is going on as the girl sitting in front of him, Christina (Michelle Monaghan), is talking to him. Colter doesn’t recognize anyone in the train and when he sees himself in the mirror he realizes he is in someone else`s body. Suddenly in the mix of all this confusion a bomb goes off and everyone in the train explodes. Colter wakes up inside a pod without understanding what is going on. There is a lady on a screen talking to him and informing him of his situation. Her name is Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) and she tells him he is part of a program called the Source Code. A train has exploded in Chicago and they are sending him back in time to try to figure out who the bomber is before another explosion takes place. Colter is being sent into a sort of parallel universe in an attempt to discover who the bomber is, not to prevent it from occurring because it already has happened. The program seems to be able to create a worm hole that is plugged to a human consciousness. The data it receives comes from the dead people on the train. Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright) is working with Goodwin; he is the scientist behind this program and he explains to Colter what is going on. They obtain this data because the human mind retains the last eight minutes of their lives, therefore they are able to connect Colter into their consciousness and send him into this parallel universe in order to identify the bomber. He only has eight minutes to make the discovery and if he doesn’t the train explodes and he has to be sent each time.

Scott Bakula`s voice can be heard when Colter calls his father from the train. Bakula is known for the TV series, Quantum Leap, which has a premise similar to the one in this movie. Jones probably added his cameo in order to credit the series for the similarity. This action thriller begins with a bang. We are put right in the middle of the action and there is no need for us to be told what is going on. Jones leaves us out from the introduction and allows us to be just as confused as Gyllenhaal`s character is. We are just as lost as he is and we begin to make discoveries along the way at the same time he does. This is what makes Source Code really work: it hooks our attention from the beginning and makes us pay close attention to the action. Jones respects his viewers and doesn’t dumb down the plot, he makes us think and get immersed in the plot. Source Code is really short (93 minutes long) and it moves at a very fast pace. If Jones would have slowed down and tried to explain what was going on then the movie wouldn’t have the impact it did, but by letting us figure out what was happening as the plot unraveled we became more and more engrossed by the action. Source Code is one of those movies that grab us by surprise, one that we didn’t expect much from, but end up leaving with a smile on our face because it comes as a sort of fresh air after a hot day. Hollywood doesn’t make much of these movies anymore, but when they do come out its exciting to see something different. Too bad they ended up giving Source Code a typical Hollywood ending, but beside that I have no complaints. This was a great action thriller.

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