Monday, August 8, 2011

REVIEW: Source Code (2011)

Director: Duncan Jones
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga

"It's the same train, but it's different."
-Colter Stevens

This sci-fi thriller revolves around a guy played by Matt Gyllenhaal, who is taking a break from trying to solve the Zodiac murders to be a military captain thrust unwillingly into a scheme by the government to try and stop a series of bombings. One train has already blown up, and if they can figure out who did it, they can prevent further attacks. Gyllenhaal plays Captain Colter Stevens, who does not know where he is or why the people in charge won’t tell him too much information. It is lucky for them, perhaps, that Stevens is also so heroic and noble, or else they may have had a much harder time getting anything accomplished. Because at the end of the day, that is what Stevens wants – to save the day and help people, like he joined the military to do anyway. But is it right to pull off experiments like this anyway? That’s a major theme in the movie. Do we go for scientific advancement, even at the expense of the freedom of our hard-working soldiers? It’s a heated debate and people will have some varying ideas and opinions on it. The technology featured in the film is more or less technobabble, but it’s creative and works well in the context of what’s going on. You never get the feeling that the writers didn’t know what they were talking about. It’s very tightly constructed and played so even if you have no clue what they’re talking about, you get the general gist of what’s going on.

Things get complicated by a beautiful woman named Christine (Michelle Monaghan), who was a passenger on the train. Now, the problem with that is that everyone on the train is a ‘shadow,’ and isn’t really real at all. They’re already dead, having died that morning in the explosion. Stevens is in the body of the guy Christine was with on the train. Naturally, being a red-blooded male, he quickly falls for Christine, not caring one bit that she is nothing but an illusion in a computer. That’s a very typical kind of romance, but it’s done here with a lot of flare and gusto. It never feels clich√© and even though we don’t get to know Christine very well, we do understand that Stevens is under pressure and needs comfort. It’s a spontaneous and passionate fling in a desperate time. A romance of a rather unusual nature, but also a very warm and heartfelt nature, too.

Source Code also packs some of the best thriller scenes I’ve seen in 2011 so far as Stevens tries to figure out who planted the bomb on the train. There is a very logical and surmounting sense of discovery here – we find out what he does. As the film goes on, the things he figures out get bigger and bigger, and we begin to fit everything together like a puzzle. This is a lot of fun and really makes things move very quickly, with a lot of flow to it. As in classics like Die Hard 3, you really feel the claustrophobia of time closing in as he has only 8 minutes each time he goes back and tries, mind you. I won’t spoil too much of what happens in the individual scenes, but rest assured it is all awesome. Any fan of action or sci fi will be satisfied with the film’s electric and high-octane thrills and chills.

The film deals with themes like choice (Stevens never got to choose to be put into this program – they forcibly put him in) and the capturing of individual moments, as nothing lasts forever and we’re supposed to enjoy things while we have them – as the rather glorious finale shows us. This movie is great and is compulsively watchable. The acting is well done, the directing is good and the story is snappy and compelling. It’s just a solid, well rounded movie, and one that I found myself really into by the end. I’ll definitely be putting this on my yearly top 10. Even if it does have too much product placements for Dunkin’ Donuts. Seriously, guys. I’d rather not crave a donut while trying to enjoy this movie, you know!