Sunday, 3 April 2011

Source of enjoyment

'Source code' review

Last night I endured a trek round Blue Water Shopping Centre knowing that the light at the end of the tunnel was a trip to the cinema to see director Duncan Jones’s new film “Source Code”.

I expected big things from the son of Ziggy Stardust.


Jake Gyllenhaal plays Captain Colter Stevens, a successful helicopter pilot whose world is turned upside down when he is catapulted onto a commuter train heading to Chicago, in the body of a man he does not know.

After a massive explosion, a shell-shocked Stevens wakes up to the voice of Carol Goodwin , who explains that Stevens is integral to the success of a government programme called “The Source Code”.

The Source Code programme allows Colter to re-live the last 8 minutes of a person’s life, without any consequences to the real world. It’s a bit like Groundhog day, but 23 hours and 52 minutes shorter.

In this case, Colter Stevens can experience the final 8 minutes of a man called Sean Fentress. Fentress and the other passengers of the Chicago commuter train were all tragic victims of a fatal bomb attack that happened earlier that morning.

Goodwin tells Stevens that he must forget about saving the lives of those on his train and should instead focus on stopping a massive attack on Chicago that is planned by the same person.

The only way to do this is to identify who planted the bomb on the train before they can strike again.

Stevens is blown up more times than a family beach ball as he strives to find the terrorist and his bomb. He is eventually successful and we then watch him battle to save Fentress’ travel buddy Christina (played by Michelle Monaghan), who he has fallen in love with, from the fatal train incident.

My 2 cents

Gyllenhaal is actually very watchable as the trapped Colter Stevens - you certainly feel sorry for him as he struggles to make sense of the difficult situation he finds himself in. His on-screen rapport with Michelle Monaghan also enables some elements of humour to break through into a film that, for the most, storms along at a frantic, action-packed pace.

The rest of the commuter train was made up of characters from all walks of life; the nervy guy from an ethnic minority background, a geeky student, a famous fat comedian, an elderly woman, a ‘tough’ businessman with a greasy pony tail. These characters were all cheesy stereotypes in their own right, but I guess the director needed to introduce these secondary characters pretty quickly, and making them archetypal was the quickest way of doing this successfully.

One things for sure, it certainly wasn’t like any commuter train I have every been on.
  1. None of the commuters were asleep 
  2. They openly talked to each other 
  3. None of the passengers were drunk or appeared to have personal hygiene issues.
However, one thing they did get spot on was the surly ticket collector.

Most of the film was set within the same period of 8 minutes in the same train carriage and the director Duncan Jones did well to ensure there was no unnecessary repetition. The audience was made aware of the scope and time spent sending Stevens back to the train, without having to witness every mission attempt. The result was a very engrossing film.

The ending was sewn up pretty neatly and if anything that is my only real gripe. It was all very ‘happily ever after’ and I felt that there weren’t any real consequences for any of the bold decisions made by Stevens or Goodwin. The director seems to ignore that he is breaking his own rules regarding the souce code and fails to offer any explanation for this. Despite this, I left the cinema happy having witnessed a very good film.
I don’t want to ruin the ending for those that haven’t seen it, but what happens to the real Sean Fentress? The poor old bean has been usurped!
 My rating - 4/5

 A very good film. An interesting concept that was supported by an excellent performance by Gyllenhaal.

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