Thursday, April 7, 2011

Film Review - SOURCE CODE (2011)

In Source Code, a man (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up on a train and doesn't recognize or remember anything. We learn that he is a soldier who is part of a program called Source Code. Thanks to Source Code, Jake G's conscious was placed into the memories of someone (a teacher) that died on the train earlier in the day. The train was bombed in a terrorist attack, and Jake G's mission is to determine who is the bomber before the bomber bombs again... (and for some reason everyone seems to know that the bomber IS going to bomb again that day.) Jake G tries to figure out the bomber's identity by experiencing and (somehow) manipulating the dead guy's memory of the last eight minutes prior to the bombing. (When I say "manipulate" I mean, his actions and decisions have consequences on those he interacts with... in a memory. Yeah, it's ridiculous) He can only experience the same eight minutes, but he can repeatedly go back into that eight minute window... And all that makes sense when you watch it. Sounds like fun, right?

The problem is... The more you think about it, the less good and more ridiculous Source Code becomes.
In theory, Source Code should be fun. It should be Groundhog Day with foiling terrorism. It's not. Source Code is supposed to be a bit of a thriller but it isn't all that thrilling.

The stakes are set... and are real. If Jake G's character fails to find the bomber, the bomber will detonate a dirty bomb in Chicago. The problem: Jake G's character doesn't seem to care. He wants to stop the bomb, sure, but it rarely seems to be his chief motivation. He spends his time trying to figure out what happened to him and his body. He wants to know how his father is. He's trying to figure out this mysterious agency that sent him on this mission. And the agency trying to stop the bomb, isn't giving answers to Jake G that may be necessary. Why the fuck not?! There's too many distracting subplots that rob from any sense of urgency. And the fact that he has many tries to figure out the bomber also robs from any sense that the clock is ticking against him.

Spoiler Alert in this paragraph because this part is bugging me... In the end, after leading Source Code to the bomber, his last wish is to save everyone on the train (and he does, and good for him)... After the eight minutes, his "real" body is supposed to die and be allowed to die. His brain and body are taken off life support in the current world. The eight minutes pass, and time freezes on a kiss between Jake G and (the delightful) Michelle Monaghan. Everyone on the train is happy... He lives in a sustained version of the happiest moment possible. It was the PERFECT ending. But then time unfreezes, and he keeps living. That doesn't make sense. He's somehow created an alternate reality in the mind of a dead guy's memories... WHA-... HOW?! There's a lot to accept with this movie, but what the hell is that?! And we know it's an alternate reality and not just Jake G's conscious because we are taken to the agency and see what happens there without the terrorist attack. And so, Jake G and Michelle M go on a date. Jake G apparently assumes the teacher's life in the alternate reality... but what happened to the teacher's consciousness? Is he dead? But everyone else lives? What happens when Michelle M realizes that the dude is a soldier (a good guy, sure) and not the teacher she'd flirted with forever? How does Jake G function in a world that he doesn't belong? What happens to the teacher's family? His friends? His students? His life? The whole alternate reality reveal gives nothing to the story.

Other notes... Jake Gyllenhaal looks like he's having fun with this role, and that brings some fun to an otherwise "meh" movie. The rest of the all star cast (Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright) are underused.

We give Source Code 5 out of 10 Blue Oyster Cults... Rent this shit.

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