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Source Code – review

Source Code

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Source Code is director Duncan Jones follow up to his 2009 debut Moon, which I picked as my favorite film of that year.  Let’s see if he’s got another trick up his sleeve.  Jake Gyllenhall plays Captain Colter Stevens, a pilot who wakes up in the body of another man on a train headed to downtown Chicago.  At first he has no idea where he is, or why the beautiful Christina (Michelle Monaghan) is sitting across from him calling him another mans name.  Stevens tries to wrap his mind around the situation, but before he can, the train blows up in a gigantic explosion. He then finds himself transported into an enclosed capsule being given instructions by Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga).  Goodwin is slow to give Stevens information at first about where he is, but he soon realizes that he is in the source code, and on a mission for the government.

The source code is a revolutionary technology that allows someone to be transported back to an event and planted into the mind of another person who has a close DNA structure to their own, and relive the last 8 minutes of the event as many times as possible.  Stevens mission is to find out who planted the bomb on the train so that they can find him and stop him before a larger event occurs in the downtown Chicago area.

The premise is actually quite simple at the core, but becomes extremely complex as the film explores multiple concepts about how the source code works, and what the larger scope and understanding of what the source code truly is.  What we get here is Groundhog Day + Quantum Leap + Twelve Monkeys all set to the tone and movement of a great Hitchcock film.  Gyllenhall is awesome and completely believable as Stevens.  Lots of science fiction films like this get bogged down with the actors doing completely ridiculous and irrational things.  The whole time I was watching the film I kept thinking, “I would actually do that to”.  This is huge in connecting with the character and getting sucked into the film.  You want to figure out who planted the bomb, but you also want Stevens to figure it out, because you can relate to him.

The film moves at a frantic pace and never gets tired or boring, which is a chore in itself seeing as how you are constantly being thrust into scenes that you have experienced over and over again.  The trick is that the scenes play out differently every time as Stevens interacts with the characters in different ways.  The core of this is his interaction with Christina.  You know at the beginning of the film that there is some sort of chemistry between them, but you’re not sure what it is.  You know that they are not together, but they shared some moment in the recent past that is playing out, and developing before your eyes, and this is just another bonus to the film.  Stevens slowly falls for Christina, all while trying to solve this cataclysmic puzzle.

The thing I really like about Jones films thus far is that they have a nice little ‘oh shit’ moment, but then his films go beyond that.  They ask questions that make us actually think about the moral dilemma at hand, and contemplate what this means in the scope of the film, and what this means for the future of mankind.  With films that insult our intelligence as movie-goers being pushed out one by one from studios I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to see a film that has faith in us to actually use our brains while watching.

Jones is two for two, and I really hope Source Code does well at the box office, because it will give Jones the leverage he needs in order to make films with bigger budgets, and you can tell that he is a director (much like Christopher Nolan) that will continue to make films his way.  Next on tap (hopefully) for Jones, is his homage to one of the greatest science fiction films ever, Blade Runner. There is a major talent at work here, and everyone should take notice.

Grade: A+