Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Source Code

Lowdown: An army helicopter pilot goes through a train ride repeatedly in order to subvert a terrorist attack.
Director Duncan Jones gave us the wonderful Moon a couple of years ago. With Source Code he’s providing us with a consecutive science fiction flick featuring a favourite actor of mine, Jake Gyllenhaal, in the leading role. Yes, you could say I had high expectations of Source Code. But no, I was quite disappointed.
Essentially, Source Code offers us September 11 graduates a more serious take on the familiar Groundhog Day theme. Colter (Gyllenhaal), an army helicopter pilot, thinks he should be in Afghanistan but instead he keeps waking up in this Chicago bound passenger train. Opposite him every time he wakes up is Christina (Michelle Monaghan), and it’s clear there is some unrealized potential for something between them. However, there is more urgent business at hand: you see, shortly after Colter wakes up on this train that train blows up. It is up to Colter to check what exactly is going on with the train in this recursive waking up mission of his.
I said already that I found Source Code to be rather disappointing; now it’s time for me to explain why. The first reason is originality: we really did see this film before, and Groundhog Day was funnier; it certainly didn’t take itself as seriously as Source Code unjustifiably does.
Second, the film’s 90 minutes plus do not give enough room for character development. Sure, we learn a thing or two about Colter, but the supporting acts – Monahgan in particular – are as flat as a plush dinner table. If it wasn’t for the looks they could have cast any person off the street instead of her.
Third, and by far the worst offender, is this entire “source code” thing. That is, the excuse made up by the film, of which we are informed in an entirely serious manner, in order to explain how come a guy who should be in Afghanistan is in Chicago instead and how come this same guy keeps on going back through a few select minutes in space/time in order to change events that already took place. As expected, the magic words of “quantum physics” are used in the quoted explanation, as if anything and everything can be explained through those two words. Well, things don’t work this way, and the Source Code explanation is as bullshit as bullshit comes; it’s a pity the film gives this explanation center stage (check the film's title, for a start).
When all that is said and done there can be no denying of Source Code’s entertainment value; it’s just that it is not a stellar entertainer. There can also be no doubt as to Source Code’s good intentions in it being a film about us having to live with the mistakes of our past but us also being lucky to be able to live in the first place, with or without our mistakes.
Best scene: What best scene? The whole movie is based around reenacting the same scene again and again.
Technical assessment: A mediocre Blu-ray with poor quality picture, featuring distorted colors aplenty. The sound is way too non aggressive for a film of this genre.
Overall: Source Code is entertaining but not half as good as I’ve expected it to be. 3 out of 5 stars.

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