Tuesday, 5 April 2011

119: Review - Source Code

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

Source Code
05 April 2011. Location: Cinema

Oooh, this is a bit good!

Plot: Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) is part of a military system to send a consciousness back in time (well, kinda), to the examine evidence of a terrorist attack so that a future one can be prevented. On his travels, he meets Christina (Michelle Monaghan), who becomes another reason to keep going back.

I haven't read any reviews of this (deliberately), but the general buzz I'm hearing is that it's being compared (for better or worse) to Inception. I've no idea why that is because if anything, it screams of Groundhog Day and Quantum Leap*1. And I mean that in a good way. While I'm on with geek references, it also reminded me a lot of Goliath, the Neil Gaiman story in The Matrix Comics, but to reveal why would go into serious spoiler territory.

So, if you've seen the trailer, you pretty much know what's going to happen, if not how, exactly. The execution of the film is fairly standard, but its strength lies in creating characters you care about. Gyllenhaal and Monaghan pull this off perfectly, as does Vera Farmiga as Goodwin, the 'mission control', and even Jeffrey Wright's grumpy Dr. Rutledge (who seems to be doing his best Darth Vader voice for most of the film*2).

Like most films with this amount of spectacle, it's worth seeing on the big screen, but you probably won't lose too much if you wait for the DVD. That said, I'm always going to recommend the cinema, because that's where most films are designed to be watched. It gets a little preachy in the closing minutes, but no worse than The Adjustment Bureau, and the message is a sound enough one, so I'll give it props for that.

There's tension, explosions (well, one explosion, many times), a race against the clock and a little romance. Pretty much everything you expect, but it also delivers more if you look closer.

Subtle points: (containing spoilers - highlight to read) The shots of Chicago in the opening titles seem to have been tilt-shifted to look like models. Given that we find out it is a simulation, this makes sense. The Chicago we see at the end of the film (the same Chicago, no less) no longer looks this way, implying that we (the audience) are within the simulation that's created at the end of the film. A bit like how you never see the sun within The Matrix, until the end of the third movie, when Sati creates the program for the sunrise, implying that we're living in the seventh and final iteration of the Matrix.
I just wanted to point that out so that when someone says to you it's a dumb action flick, you can lay some metaphysical shit on them.

Geek points: Not to give too much away, but I'd have been annoyed if the bomber had been the guy in the Star Wars t-shirt.

All in all: Awesome. Plenty to watch, plenty to think about. Should stand up well to repeat viewings.

I'd quite happily have watched a longer version, with more exploration of what can and can't be done within the experiment.

*1 Quantum Leap's Scott Bakula plays the father of Colter Stevens, albeit just as a voice on the phone. That made me grin.
*2 I would seriously love to hear Jeffrey Wright's lines synthesised the way James Earl Jones' are when he plays Vader. I'm sure someone will do that sooner or later.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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