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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 07.25.11] movie review news scifi action thriller drama

Year: 2010
Director: Duncan Jones
Writer: Ben Ripley
IMDB: link
Amazon: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 7 out of 10

[Editor's Note: Rochefort had a similar reaction when he saw the film at SXSW.]

When Duncan Jones arrived on the scene in 2009 with his debut Moon, he was heralded the man that would take us back to big thought, minimalist sci-fi. These sorts of expressions are often without merit but with his follow-up Source Code, Jones is cementing himself as a director of thought provoking fare, even when the trappings appear to be straightforward.

The trailer for Source Code appeared to give away big chunks of the story but you can chalk that up to great editing. Jake Gyllenhaal is Colter Stevens, a military man on a mission to save the city of Chicago from a crazy bomber. A bomb has gone off on a commute train and the city has been warned that a second bomb will go off in a few hours time, causing mass panic and destruction. Enter Source Code. A new military program created by a mad scientist (Jeffrey Wright), Source Code allows an individual to be jacked into some sort of simulation of a compatible individual's last eight minutes of life. It's not explained how those eight minutes are dug out of the dead body and it's not really of importance. The thing to note is that Stevens is dumped into this strange body with a mission: to find the bomber and until he does so, he'll be re-living those gruelling eight minutes. Forget re-living the same eight minutes over and over again, I'd be more upset about dying every eight minutes.

All of this laid out in the trailer and the film's synopsis but the great thing about Source Code is that there's much more going on, both plot wise and thematically. The joy of a film like Source Code is that it can be watched and enjoyed as an action film but those looking for more, there are plenty of nuggets for further discussion. Start with the mental anguish that clearly plagues Stevens the first few times he returns to "reality." Waking up from an ugly death is traumatizing and though it seems to get easier the more times he returns to and from the Source Code, death takes a toll on his psyche; the moral debate here alone is enough to keep discussion rolling for a while but I must admit I was more excited about the prospect of the film's closing minutes when Stevens convinces Goodwin (Vera Farmiga), the mad doctor's assistant, to send him back into the system for one last run.

Throughout Source Code Stevens brings up this idea of multiple realities and though Dr. Rutledge and Goodwin explain that the Source Code isn't a reality, there are some attempts to explain the idea of Source Code with real science, but just a memory of 8 minutes that have already occurred, but Stevens is convinced otherwise and as those final minutes on his final trip into the Source Code counted down, I found myself hoping that Stevens was right. Part of it is the story which develops a retlationship, in 8 minutes, and sometimes less, incriments between Stevens and Christina (Michelle Monaghan), the woman sitting across from him on the train but mostly, it's Gyllenhaal's performance which brings heart and emotional depth to the otherwise emotionless proceedings. This is a mission and everyone in the "real world" treats it as such leaving Gyllenhaal to deliver the emotional punch.

Source Code isn't quite the classic that Moon is but Jones delivers an entertaining, thought provoking story which is more appealing to the general masses than his debut; it's certainly a worthy follow-up. Jones is setting himself up as a must-watch director and at this rate, I can't wait to see what he has in store for us with Mute (details).

Source Code is available on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, July 25th.

DVD Extras: A nice assortment of extras on this release including a 40 minute interview with the film's stars and the director on everything from the difficulties of shooting in an enclosed space to the atmosphere on set, a commentary with the director as well as a trivia version of the film that when played, displays pop-ups of random trivia.

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agentorange (10 years ago) Reply

I liked Source Code a lot, but I would attribute its success more to Ben Ripley's high-concept script and Jake Gyllenhaal's chops than to Jones' direction.

I was a big fan of Moon. There was a personality with a vision behind the camera. With Source Code, Jones does little more than service the script. It's competently made, but it also feels like anyone could have made it. Chock it up to being a studio picture with a lot of cooks at the table, but where I expected to see the blossoming of an auteur I only saw entertainment.

I hope this does well on Blu-ray because Ripley should be getting more big movies made and Jone's needs more freedom next time.


Tico (10 years ago) Reply

Source Code i a great film and Duncan Jones proved again that he is a great director. There is nothing wrong in servicing the script. Imagine that this 'directors' serviced the Source Code script. Zack Snyder, Michael Bay, Antoine Fuqua, Quentin Tarantino, ...


agentorange (10 years ago) Reply

No there is nothing wrong with servicing a script. On a base level that's a director's job. But trust me. If any of those directors you mentioned worked on Source Code it would be a very different kind of film IMO. Jones has real talent and I'm cheering for him but this doesn't hold a candle to Moon.


Robert Paulsen (10 years ago) Reply

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uncleB (10 years ago) Reply

@Robert Paulsen - FUCK-OFF



cakesizcakes (9 years ago) Reply

so this film is good and stuff

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