Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Source Code

Directed by Duncan Jones.
2011. Rated PG-13, 93 minutes.
Jake Gyllenhaal
Michelle Monaghan
Vera Farmiga
Jeffrey Wright
Michael Arden
Cas Anvar
Max Denoff
Brent Skagford
Gordon Masten

Colter Stevens (Gyllenhaal) finds himself aboard a commuter train in Chicago and he has no idea how he got there. He really freaks out when he makes his way to the restroom and sees a face different from his own in the mirror. He returns to his seat where his behavior disturbs Christina (Monaghan), whom he doesn’t know but who appears to be his traveling companion. Of course, she thinks he’s whoever that was in the mirror and has no clue about what’s happening. In a few minutes, the train explodes, he blacks out and wakes up in a capsule talking to Cpt. Goodwin (Farmiga) through a monitor. By the way, he doesn’t know her, either. Shortly, we’re let in on the plan. Through an invention/discovery called Source Code the last eight minutes of a person’s life can be retrieved to be relived by someone who is a close enough match. Our soldier is a match for the man in the mirror. His mission is to find out who blew up the train. He can go back into the matrix…er…Source Code numerous times, but he always only has eight minutes before he’s kicked out. Back and forth Colter is tossed apparently through time and/or space to conduct his investigation 480 seconds at a time. He also pursues other curiosities on his own since it seems he was volunteered for this mission without his knowledge or consent.

Source Code lost me pretty quickly. Though the movie tries its best to confuse you early on, that wasn’t it at all. I followed just fine. Perhaps I followed too well. I say this because the one thing that ruins a movie built on suspense happened. I knew who the bad guy was within eight minutes of being told what our hero was supposed to do. That’s roughly fifteen minutes of real time. It was pretty simple, actually. I looked at the only person who struck me as a viable candidate, said to myself “That’s who did it,” and waited to be proven right. Unfortunately, I was. There was no mystery for me. Watching him accost person after person in hopes of hitting the jackpot felt like a pointless exercise. It was similar in feel to an episode of CSI. Yes, what’s going on is vaguely interesting but I know the person they bring in at 15 after the hour and 30 after aren’t the killer. It’s always the one they start chasing at 45 after.

Once you’ve figured out the villain it’s easy to sit around looking for other things. Not one to resist this particular temptation, I mapped out how I thought the story would play out in my mind. Sadly, I got almost all of it right including the emotionally manipulative finale. It’s the type of ending I’d normally be okay with because my energy would’ve been spent guessing the identity of the killer. To make matters worse, it spends its last few minutes of screentime breaking every rule of its own movie science without sufficient explanation.

So far I’ve been relentlessly bashing SC but take it with a grain of salt. The truth is if you don’t know who the terrorist is this is probably highly intriguing sci-fi. Even though the protagonist relives the same eight minutes repeatedly, it manages to not be boring like the similarly styled Vantage Point a few years ago. On top of that, some will fall hook, line and sinker for what’s intended to be a tear-jerker climax. It just failed to grab me. Each time it threatened to do so I dodged it by finding something else to nitpick. If it manages to get a hold of you, you’ll probably enjoy it. If it doesn’t, welcome to my world.

MY SCORE: 5/10

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