Source Code review (Spoiler free)

Thursday, March 31, 2011 Craig Grobler 0 Comments

Source CodeThere is a lot of pressure on Duncan Jones, Source Code is after all - his next film. His debut feature Moon bowled audiences over and its slow burn appreciation is still gathering an army of fans.

So a lot of those fans are curious as I am to know what Jones will do after the heady heights of Moon? Was the absorbing detail of the Moon a fluke? Did we read more than there was in Moon? Was the double teaming of Duncan Jones & Sam Rockwell a unique combination? Will Duncan Jones follow a “one for me one for the studios” film making policy? Moon was great, but will changing the format stretch Duncan Jones’ stylised vision? Read on pilgrim, but of course none of that should matter. The real question is, is Source Code enjoyable?

Source Code starts with a flyover of a large, beautiful modern city which we later find out to be Chicago, the style of camera work feels very 70s and this is supported by the sparse linear titles and intrigue inducing electrotastic theme. I slide back a little more comfortable in my seat looks like Jones is tapping into 70s sensibilities like he did with Moon to convey his vision. If the title sequence alone is evoking this kind of dramatic any thing can happen atmosphere I know I’m in for a ride.

After flying over some landscape we zoom into a double decker train and introduced to Sean Fentress (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Christina (Michelle Monaghan) two passengers on the train. Fentress is disorientated and clearly not himself.

Source Code’s official synopsis says that it is an action thriller centered on a soldier who wakes up in the body of an unknown man and discovers he's part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train.

If you have seen the trailer or read any of the marketing guff (like 89% of you reading this. Sorry other 11% if you don’t want mild spoilers skip to the end). OK! So you know that Jake Gyllenhaal is playing Colter Stevens, playing Sean Fentress. Despite my making it sound very complicated it really isn’t if you are adapt at following any Sci-Fi based narrative. Colter is part of an experimental military program that can send him back in time for 8 mins at a time, which is handy because that’s exactly when a bomb goes off destroying the train. But it’s not going back in time its going into the Source Code sort of like an alternative reality after burn of what has already taken place. In a very similar way to Denzel Washington could voyeuristically see the past in Déjà vu but not change it - the difference as you can see in the trailer is that Colter Stevens can interact with the Source Code.

Source Code
1. I don't care if Denzel & Pine overcame their differences to work together for a shared goal. This is my train now bitch!
2. Colter Stevens explains how TFL's shoddy service makes him feel.

Captain Colter needs to investigate the bomb blast that takes place on the train as it is part of a much bigger plot that could end with millions of lives lost.

Duncan Jones has said that part of the inspiration behind Moon was sparked by his interest in a future version of himself making contact and what that interaction might be. He certainly carries that theme forward with Source Code. Like Moon the magic of Source Code is high concept sci-fi delivered in a simplistic way focusing more on people and emotion.

Which means that for Source Code to work - performances are key. The cast are rather good and easily the best thing about Source Code – it’s easy to buy into Jake Gyllenhaal as a reluctant conflicted hero on a mission.

Michelle Monaghan is engaging as she iteratively progresses from travel commute buddy. Colter’s only contact with the outside world is through military officer Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) who is also facing a dilemma as time ticking by in the real world she needs Colter to stay on point and focus on unraveling the bomb blast rather than his natural instinct to save everyone on the train as well as trying to get his head around what Source Code is.

Source Code
1. What would you do if you only had minutes to live? 2. Justin Timberlake:I'm outta time and all I got is 4 8 minutes, 4 8 minutes, hey Madonna: Come on boy, I've been waiting for somebody, To pick up my stroll, pick up my stroll, Well, don't waste time, give me a sign, Tell me how you want to roll, how you want to roll.

But the most interesting performance comes from Jeffrey Wright as Rutledge head of Source Code as a mad genius type trying to get his experimental technology taking seriously and funded. Just prior to seeing Source Code I caught him at “Peoples” in Shaft and again, despite competing with Samuel L Jackson and Christian Bale he was possibly the most interesting character to watch in the film.

For Duncan Jones fans I spotted two refrences, one early on that is a reference to Moon and then around the three quarter mark there is a broader Sci-Fi reference. Both involve a mobile phone ;)

Despite the repeated explosions and one really dodgy CGI bomb blast Source Code is a tense little thriller with a Sci-Fi edge more about emotion than guns & explosions. Like Moon at the heart of the story is a man fighting his own fate against all odds.

It has more in common with the simplicity of Hitchcock and the likes of The Adjustment Bureau, (without the cheesiness) than the heavily threaded and drama laden Inception.

Source CodeDirector: Duncan Jones
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan and Vera Farmiga

SOURCE CODE- 8 Minute Facebook Challenges

Visit the official fan page http://www.facebook.com/SourceCodeUK to take part in our exciting 8 Minute Facebook Challenges, which are taking place this week in the run up to Friday’s release! You have 8 minutes to complete your mission..!

Source Code will be in UK cinemas from Friday April 1, 2011

Originally published for Live For Films here!