Saturday, April 02, 2011

"Source Code" (2011) - Movie Review

Sometimes a preposterous set up is what you need for a great science fiction and it happened spectacularly well in “Knowing” (of course hated by many). Here comes “Source Code” another mumbo jumbo with quantum physics and what not with paradox written all over it that makes it good ride but struggles to create the emotional waves in its characters. Directed by Duncan Jones who enthralled me with his debut “Moon” who brought back the old school science fiction with a minimalist approach.

It is “Groundhog Day” for Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) or more like Groundhog 8 minutes. The film begins in a train where Colter awakes amused, confused and trying to get the sense of reality. He does not have a clue how he got there. He wakes up in front of this charming young woman (Michelle Monaghan) and is being called Sean. Before he could figure out the situation the train blows up waking him up in some kind of cockpit in a space shuttle resembling “12 Monkeys”. A military personnel Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) appears through a screen and provides little information on what is happening to Colter. It appears to be a simulation and Colter has 8 minutes every time he gets into this world. Within that span of time he has to find the bomber more than the bomb as this all appears to be not real. This would help Collen and team to find the next series of bomb threats looming.

Colter is of course in disarray and dismay as the details in the nature of reality he temporarily lives is too good to be a simulation. Duncan Jones appears to aim for multiple things out of this well funded second project. There is the human connection Colter is begin to have with Christina and immediately saves her in his second attempt. Then there is the whole mystery of Colleen and the nerdy scientist Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright) keeping the details from Colter. The latter part is intriguing but the revelation of the details almost becomes too easy to happen and the former part somehow misses beyond the good chemistry between Gyllenhaal and Monaghan.

“Source Code” is an intelligent film and a well made one with the way Jones moving on almost too hurriedly. While I am a great fan of keeping things short and simple sometimes when there is a meaty plot with some crazy possibilities to make the audience think and work their way out, I would enjoy the process of providing details over the top. “Inception” is the obvious example but the ridiculously messed up “Primer” and the cult classic “Dark City” comes to mind. Jake Gyllenhaal races against the time but he appears to be too relaxed despite the facial tension his dense stubble carries.

There is no doubt that I liked the film but somehow the love I develop rethinking and playing it back in my mind did not come out of “Source Code”. Drafted with some thorough planning in the script that rarely pauses snaps its fingers and gets the audience going on. After the third attempt Colter begins to get the feel for this world but consistently fails as he is battling with his own predicament of his existence.

The film brings tons of questions which does not provide great answers opens up the world of possibilities in the film’s multiple worlds. It does not go for the home run in giving that nostalgic experience when you leave the theatre witnessing a wonderful plot, perfect execution and cannot wait to go back to see it all over again.

In the current flow of mindless films in the name of murdering science fiction it is indeed an appreciating welcome change to see “Source Code” but with that promising beginning comes soaring expectation. Writer Ben Ripley has a tight screenplay but should have eased up a little space for developing more connection within the characters. Duncan Jones proves that he is a capable director even working with a script written by someone other than him. He has showed great variation in scale and presentation between his debut film and this one and this film assures that he can provide better films in coming times.

Very soon into the film we are exposed to the concept of alternate realities and the quantum physics thrown around effortlessly. Doing that invites nothing but strong paradoxical elements leaving unanswered minds. In that “Source Code” keeps at bay and leaves a door open with an interesting happy ending. But happy ending is not all a great film needs and in that it falls short.

1 comment:

kPg said...

Wow, this is a smart critique! You know, among all the reviews I've read about Source Code, the common positive thing was that director Duncan Jones did a great job in telling the story. Actually, I made the same remark in my own Source Code movie review. Will you please check it out? Thanks!