Friday, 25 March 2011

Source Code

After the success of Brokeback Mountain, it's only natural that Jake Gyllenhaal would be attracted to another script in which he finds himself inside the body of another man. However this time round it's his mind which is squeezed into some poor sap's unwitting noggin as he's made to relive the same eight minutes of time over and over until he can discover who blew up the 0730 train to Chicago. [insert obligatory Groundhog Day reference]
Despite all the marketing to the contrary, Source Code isn't concerned with time travel as much as it is with parallel universes. At least I think that's what it's concerned with - it was a bit tricky to glean from a rushed and mumbled exposition scene in which Jeffrey Wright babbled about quantum physics and parabolic calculus before pointing over my shoulder and shouting "What's that?!" then running away before I had chance to ask what the hell he was on about.

Obviously it doesn't matter a hoot how Jake ends up in his doomed temporal loop, but what happens during those repeated minutes, and fortunately what happens is sufficiently exciting for a Saturday night popcorn flick, if not as extraordinary as director Duncan Jones' fantastic debut Moon might have led us to hope.

Given a considerably larger budget this time round, Jones sensibly doesn't blow it on massive CG sequences and set-pieces. Source Code is still a relatively "small" picture about two or three people, and like all the best time travel - sorry, parallel universe - movies, the fantasy element is there to serve the story rather than vice versa.

Gyllenhaal is as watchable as ever, Michelle Monaghan (to whom I am married in a parallel universe) does an exceptional job of dealing with the insanity of the plot in a totes convincing fashion, Vera Farmiga talks into camera a lot and Jeffrey Wright has clearly polished off all the catering truck's ham.
Ben Ripley's script is good old-fashioned hokum for the most part, although the ending raises countless moral and ethical questions that the film isn't interested in, suggesting a darker, more interesting sequel in some version of the future.

In a movie that feels a bit like a job interview, Duncan Jones proves that he can handle the complexities of a larger budget, a few action scenes and another brain-twisting script, but the final product contains none of the atmosphere or great moments of his debut. He's clearly a talented director and the inevitable superhero reboot and Christopher Nolan comparisons await, but for now Source Code feels like a step on the way to greater things. The next step being to stop shoehorning Chesney Hawkes' "The One And Only" into his films. Nobody needs that.


  1. A well-paced and structured sci-fi thriller that's as complex as it is clear-headed. Also, Gyllenhaal shows again why exactly he really is one of the better leading men out there, and proves he still has that charm. Good review, check out mine when you can!

  2. Michelle Monaghan2 May 2011 at 14:58

    Why would you need to be married to anyone in a parallel universe when you is married to Mrs Incredible Suit now init? Flippin'!