Bob and Justin's Mad Movie Blog

My name is Bob. My friend Justin and I are aspiring filmmakers and we have pretty similar tastes in movies. This will include our take on what's going on in film and television today as well as updating you on the status of our own work.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Source Code

With 2009's "Moon," first time director Duncan Jones established himself as a talented filmmaker who just happens to be the son of David Bowie. Now he's back with a film that is decidedly more mainstream but no less interesting.
Awaking on a train in the Chicago area, Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) has no idea how he got there, where he is going, or who the woman (Michelle Monaghan, "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang") sitting across from him is. It's obvious she knows him though, but how exactly? And just who is that looking back at him in the mirror? Eight minutes of confusion ends with a literal bang when the train Colter is riding explodes. He should have been killed but the next thing he knows the U.S. Army captain finds himself inside a simulator capsule being asked by a woman named Goodwin (Vera Farmiga, "Up in the Air") what he'd learned about the bomb. Before he can understand what's happening Colter is going back to the beginning and waking up on the train all over again in an attempt to discover who bombed it and what the next target might be.
Like another recent sci-fi thriller, "The Adjustment Bureau," "Source Code" is an example of science fiction that doesn't really feel like science fiction. And much like "Bureau" it's a movie that doesn't waste time. Each time Colter goes back to the train he learns a little bit more not only about the bomb, but about himself, the man whose body he is inhabiting, and the other passengers. The script by Ben Ripley is smart in that we learn things only when Colter learns them. It also has enough emotional content to make us care and enough genuinely funny humor to relieve the tension when necessary.
Gyllenhaal does a fine job as Stevens, a man we grow to like more and more as the film progresses. He makes mistakes and makes some questionable decisions but they're completely understandable and I for one probably would have made those same choices. Monaghan makes the most of a fairly thin character, reminding us how good an actress she really is. There's a star waiting to break out there and I really hope she gets her day in the sun, preferably in a comedic lead. Farmiga makes Goodwin very sympathetic. She wants to help Colter in any way possible but protocol and the boss over her shoulder dictate that she can only do so much. The only disappointing performance belongs to the normally terrific Jeffrey Wright. As Goodwin's superior and a man who cares little for Colter, Wright appears to be out of a B-movie or worse, something made for Syfy. I don't think you can really blame the script for this because I don't think the dialogue he delivers or the actual character have anything particularly wrong with them. Wright just seems to have missed the mark.
It's not going to become a classic, but "Source Code" is a solidly entertaining and intelligent piece of storytelling that I'm willing to bet will be satisfying on a completely different level upon a second viewing. This is a good one. 8/10.

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