4 April 2011
SOURCE CODE- Review
Captain Colter Stevens wakes up on board a commuter train, in a body that is not his own. Everyone else sees him as the man he appears to have inhabited, a teacher called Sean Fentress, including Sean's colleague Christina. Eight minutes later, the train explodes, bombed by an unknown attacker. In a cramped capsule at a government facility, Colter is repeatedly put through those eight minutes by a technology called source code, with the goal of discovering the bomber's identity before he strikes again in the real world.
Following The Adjustment Bureau and Limitless in recent weeks, Source Code presents itself as another more intelligent sci-fi, driven by characters and generally very well executed. Duncan Jones is once again directing from a script that is not his, but he still indelibly makes it his own film. It shares some of the same themes as Moon, and some selected shots of Jake Gyllenhaal in isolation that echo those in the earlier film.
Of the script however, it has to be said that the wrong director could have easily gone off the rails with it. Imagining Tony Scott directing this script is a concept that... well, it's actually remarkably like Deja Vu, a Scott film in which frequent collaborator Denzel Washington plays a cop tasked with travelling back in time to prevent a terrorist attack. The easy distinction to make here is that Source Code does not uphold the idea that the past can be changed, instead opting for a multiversal approach.
Gyllenhaal is less distinctive but no less accomplished in the lead role. Jones' leading man from Moon, Sam Rockwell could arguably have pulled it off better, but it's certainly not bad casting. It pains me to say that the single instance of bad casting, which almost pulled down the whole movie for me, involves the usually reliable Jeffrey Wright. He channels Shatner as Professor Rutledge, hamming it up in a performance that really belongs in another movie. By contrast, Vera Farmiga, with whom he shares most of his scenes, is the very picture of restraint and consideration.
The best thing to say in the film's favour is that it never seems repetitive, even for a moment. This is a plot that is predicated upon a character repeating the last eight minutes of a man's life ad infinitum, doing things a little differently each time, and it always feels fresh. The premise reminded me a little of Quantum Leap, and to that effect, Jones cast Scott Bakula in a short cameo. That's just one example of the intertextual nous at Jones' disposal, which complements and enhances his visionary approach.
Source Code is now showing in cinemas nationwide.
If you've seen Source Code, why not share your comments below? It's my birthday today, so be nice.
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.