I dun seen a new film hur hur hurrr….
Source Code (2011)
Yep, been sitting on this for a few days, but only been well enough to actually type up my thoughts recently. Source Code is by far the least brain-rotting thing in cinemas at the moment (Rio and especially Sucker Punch should have mental health warnings on the posters), so here are my thoughts on why you should see it this Easter instead of a film containing annoying, squawking birds or indeed, Rio.
“It’s the same train, but it’s different.”
Source Code tells the story of U.S. Army Helicopter pilot Capt. Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) as he is drafted for a top secret experiment that enables him to go back to the past (in somebody else’s body) for a short amount of time. Stevens is plonked onto a doomed train and told he must prevent the train bomber from blowing up a much nastier and deadlier device in the centre of Chicago. I love the overall idea of Source Code. It’s probably best described as a cross between Groundhog Day and Quantum Leap. Gyllenhaal is on his most convincing form since his other time turny flick, Donnie Darko. Michelle Monaghan was a nice surprise, although I haven’t seen her in much other than Eagle Eye– and anything’s a step up from that wankreel. Both Jeffrey Wright (yay, Felix!) and Vera Farmiga also deserve recognition for their work. They’re great.
If you’re some kind of embittered cynic who is firmly rooted in reality, Source Code will probably annoy you. Just like all the best sci-fi films, Source Code doesn’t let explanation weigh down what makes the central concept fun. The answer to how this amazing time jumping thing is possible is vaguely explained, but who the shit cares when you have Jake “The Chest” Gyllenhaal tear-arsing around trying to find a bomber? The literal race against time is too well done for you to be getting hung up on the preposterous. It says a lot for a film where the only element I found to be too jarring in the temporal-twisty-crikey-kaboom flick was when Stevens uses Microsoft’s Bing search engine on his phone rather than just Googling. Ridiculous. Nobody Bings anything.
What I really liked about Source Code was the same thing I liked about director Duncan Jones’ previous film Moon– the level of characterisation. Ol’ Zowie Bowie knows the way to find the human in the story and I can’t imagine Source Code working as well as it does without his involvement. Whilst Stevens isn’t the only character we’re introduced to like Sam Rockwell in Moon, we do learn a lot about him as the film progresses. Much like Groundhog Day, our hero is the only one who can remember his previous 8 minute stints so we see the changes in his attitude each go-around. It’s an effective technique which succeeds in actually making you care about these characters. I understood why Stevens began falling for Christina and believed he cared about her. It’s funny, but with a lot of films like this I usually believe that the inevitable and clearly signposted romance is just advanced lust. They haven’t had time to get to know each other- they’ve just been through some stuff and recognise that they find each other attractive. I would love to see the statistics on the relationships formed over the course of an action film. Only about 2% would make it past the first month.
Although I’ve just talked about the romance, I don’t consider that a spoiler. There’s an incredibly nerdy game I used to play as a stupid child called “Willkiss”. I would look at a film poster, take the lead actor’s name and say “will kiss” and then add the lead actress’ name. It still works about 90% of the time. It’s so shite and obvious now but back then it made me feel like I was a psychic for a few brief brilliant moments. Ahem… Anyway, I am going to talk about the ending and some proper spoilers now. So go and see the film, come back and highlight what comes next. Then send naked pictures of yourself to me (family excluded- I’ve seen enough scarring things on my computer screen). That ending- (invisotext, muthas) I don’t know about you, but I found the ending to be a little too happy. I’m all for positive endings and even wanted one for this film, but the overwhelmingly postive vibe really clashed with the dark tone the third act had established. I half expected dancing CGI animals to pop up. It just didn’t seem to be the natural ending. Still I really liked the twist and the happy clappy thing only marred what is still an excellent film very slightly. Also, since I’m under the spoiler-proof cover, I thought Michael Arden’s bastardly Derek Frost was fantastic. The scene where Chesty Jake utterly foils him is so damn good and in my opinion, owes that awesomeness to Arden’s performance.
“Tell me everything’s gonna be okay.”
So, Source Code. It’s great. The script is sharp, direction great and the actors are all compelling. It’s one of the most satisfying thrillers I’ve seen in ages and definitely warrants a viewing. Go and see, then wish you could travel back in time an hour and a half to watch it again.