A Look Inside: "Source Code"
A Potentially Great Idea Screeches to a Stop
How many times have we seen this in films recently? No one seems to be able to come up with an original idea, so they decide to revisit old works and change a few details around to make it "new".
I almost thought they had done it with this one, though.
When "Source Code", directed by Duncan Jones, was suggested to me by a friend, my first thought was that it sounded interesting but that it was very similar to other movies I'd seen. Would this one really be worth watching? I was skeptical, but I like thrillers well enough, so I decided to humor my friend and go with her to see it.
I have a standard "three minute" rule for movies I watch; for some reason, if I enjoy the first three minutes of a film, I generally enjoy the whole thing. If the movie begins with no hook, however, the rest of it just goes from bad to worse. Sometimes I'll suffer through just to see the ending, and other times I'll simply decide to shut it off. But in this case, I have to admit, I was drawn in with the first shot. In it, we see Jake Gyllenhaal's face smushed against a train window, slowly waking from sleep. At first I was repulsed, since I am no fan of Jake. Not one to judge a movie by its actors, though, I allowed myself to get pulled in. It was a scene on a train, where a girl is talking to Jake as if she knows him, but he does not know her. It ends in a violent explosion, and our hero wakes up in a dark chamber, strapped into a machine of unknown origin, wondering how he had just survived.
As soon as I realized that the entire film was based on the first scene being replayed over and over again, some doubts of its success entered my mind. In the movie, the main character is being used as a pawn for the government. He is made a test subject for a new project called "source code", which sends him back into the train over and over again, until he solves the mystery of who left the bomb. Whenever he asks about where he is, he is refused information. Each time he fails, he has to go back in, not knowing anything about the mission except that he must find the bomber before he kills more people. He is told that the machine is sending him into a memory from a man that died in the explosion that morning, and that he only has eight minutes to solve the crime. The writer, Ben Ripley, certainly did a great job of keeping our interest throughout the film, as the story left many mysteries to be unraveled slowly with each visit back to the train. The director also did a wonderful job varying the camera angles and editing styles for each return. Without their combined efforts, I don't think the film would have made any top lists with anyone. I was pleasantly surprised that I was actually enjoying the film. I won't say it was hard to figure out who the bomber was, as I figured that out in the first scene, but I will say that the story of Jake's character, Colter Stevens, unfolded nicely. Information was not readily available and I felt each new detail given was a fun new addition to the puzzle. I could feel myself getting close to the story but also one step behind it, which to me is a sign of a great movie.
I continued to enjoy the story until the end, when the writer apparently decided to wrap it in a Hollywood bow. If this had been an independent art film, it would have ended realistically, and left me satisfied fully. However, since the writer and director seemed to want everyone to survive and live happily ever after, they wove a confusing web of techno-jumble into five convenient minutes and undermined the entire film.
For those of you who like happily ever after films, you'll like this film. However, if you enjoy more realistic fare, steer clear.
That's a Jackie's View.
Watch the Trailer Here!
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