Monday, April 4, 2011

Source Code

Well here's a perfectly decent movie; not at all great, not at all too bad, just right for the cinematic mediocrity that is otherwise known as Spring.

In Source Code, Captain Colter Stevens (an amusingly perplexed Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes in a dazy haze on a metro train en route to downtown Chicago. He has no idea where he is or how he got there. The attractive young woman sitting across from him (played effortlessly by Michelle Monaghan) speaks in casual conversation, often referring to him by a name other than his own.

Stevens goes stir crazy for several minutes, taking in the actions of the other passengers and the situation in general before the train goes caboom. He then wakes up in some sort of vessel and is told on the other end of a video feed that he is stuck in the Source Code, a sort of time "readjustment" device that allows a person to travel back, via the final moments of a person's memory, and try to determine the cause of whatever is at stake.

For the film's purposes, Stevens is assigned with trying to figure out who blew up the train. He can be put back into the Source Code world as many times as needed, but only for eight minutes at a time. If he catches the bomber, he could prevent an impending attack on downtown Chi-Town.

Sound confusing? Too much? Well don't worry, because Source Code is filled with those endless exposition scenes in which characters explain every single detail about what is going on, virtually taking the piss out of whatever mystery the film could carry.

Oh well, at least the movie is directed by a true visionary, Duncan Jones, whose one other feature is the criminally underrated Moon from two years ago. Jones (son of David Bowie) has an eye for delivering things we've never seen, or at least, delivering them in a fresh light. In short, it's nice to see a little artistic effort put into a generic sci-fi/action flick.

The cast is good, albeit with weak material. Gyllenhaal has fun hamming up his moments of fleeting charm with Monaghan, and Vera Farmiga and the great Jeffery Wright (as the military personnel on the other side of the Source Code) all dish out performances that they are more than capable of executing.

But good acting and interesting artistic flourishes aside, Source Code is a little too smart for its own good, with an ending that takes on far too many cinematic liberties. It doesn’t leave the audience wanting more (as I assume Jones wanted) it just makes them want out. C-

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