Friday, June 10, 2011

Source Code Review

Rottentomatoes: 91% out of 100% 3 out of 5 Stars 74 out of 100 7.6 out of 10 Stars
The Movie Man Rating: 3.5 Out of 5 Stars 

Science fiction films, for the first time in decades, seem to be returning into fashion. The 1970’s seemed to belong to George Lucas, today defined as the Star Wars generation. Alien films appeared to dominate the sci-fi category, E.T., War of the Worlds, and other of Steven Spielberg pickings having proven that. Of course, we have seen numerous attempts at making good sci-fi pop up over the years- feeble remakes such as Battle: Los Angeles, and even films that pathetically tried to appeal to popular culture like 2012.

The most recent sci-fi film towards the closing of the 20th Century-the Golden Years of film- was The Matrix, and it was a hit. It was that film that established what made great sci-fi- what defined it as a genre. It takes more than flashy visual effects and impressive machinery to make a sci-fi. It took intelligence. It either had to make sense to you as soon as you heard it (and didn’t get any guffaws from modern science) or perplex you to the point of tears. Inception, I believe, reestablished the genre in 2010. It was a brilliant film (that amazingly appealed to critics and audiences alike, thanks to Christopher Nolan’s name stamped above the title) that was complex on a storytelling level as well as an emotional one- that’s why I feel it’s a breakthrough in film.

So, the demand for mind bending films have grown great in Hollywood today- March’s The Adjustment Bureau was the first major release to follow the trend, and Duncan Jones’s Source Code followed. Jones, who previously directed the hit indie sci-fi Moon returns for what is probably his most accessible film to date, led by the ever-charming Jake Gyllenhaal.

Captain Colter Stevens (Gyllenhaal) one day wakes up on a train, not knowing how he got there. He learns that he is part of a mission to find a bomber on the train- which he has to do in eight minutes. After each eight minute passes the train blows up, and because of Source Code, a secret government project that allows people to go into another persons’  body in a small timeframe after they die, going back in time to change a small series of events, Stevens has to learn all he can about the passengers around him, so that he can finally catch the bomber and stop the next attack- and in the meantime, also discover what happened to his body- his real body. Meanwhile, he begins a romance with Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan) who helps him find out that in your last minutes, you try to make every moment count.

Source Code is fairly easy to keep track of in the beginning. Its premise is deceptively simple, but as the film progresses and we get into the final acts, the film gets very perplexing- if you’re not very cerebral or good at puzzles, It’s better not to try to figure out the ending. Just enjoy the ride.

Jake Gyllenhaal does his best portraying a decorated army man, but I have to say, his naturally small physique just doesn’t sell me on the whole “nine months of army training” thing. He seems a bit awkward in some scenes, but for the most part, it’s not that noticeable.  

That said, I have to say- this was a really excellent film. Besides featuring a smart, deliciously mind-boggling sci-fi plot, it also featured compelling characters and a very human story amidst all the explosions. You begin to care about the characters- even relate to them- and that’s what makes a great film, when you unintentionally become emotionally invested in its story.

It’s a great popcorn flick- let’s leave it at that. For me, it wasn’t as profound as Inception and it didn’t break any new ground like The Matrix, but by today’s standards, it’s a pleasant surprise. This, overall, is a crowd pleaser.

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