Thursday, July 21, 2011

Flick of The Day: Source Code

British director Duncan Jones created a sleeper hit with his 2009 low budget sci-fi flick Moon with a stand out performance from Sam Rockwell. It successfully played with perceptions of reality to create a modern take on the perils of artificial intelligence. He is in similar territory with his latest film though on a much more Hollywood style budget. Today's flick of the day is Source Code.
Jake Gyllenhaal is a US Army Captain who takes part in a military experiment. In the aftermath of a train bombing in downtown Chicago which kills hundreds, he is given the ability to experience the last 8 minutes of the train journey through the eyes of a dead passenger. In an effort to solve the crime, he must experience those final 8 minutes numerous times, each time adding more clues to the final mystery. Of course this is not the whole story as we are repeatedly led to question the reality of what we are seeing and indeed the inherent possibilities. Gyllenhaal's only contact with the real world is an Air Force Captain named Goodwin played by Vera Farmiga. As time ticks, he must solve the crime before the bomber strikes again and find the truth about why he himself has been selected for this mission.
Jake Gyllenhaal has built a career on bringing a quirky intensity to his roles and having a keen eye for an interesting project. In a relatively short career he has taken on roles as disparate as Donnie Darko, Brokeback Mountain and Zodiac, showing a great range of talent. He is then perfect of the kind of film which this is. To enjoy you really have to sit back and suspend your disbelief for a moment. After all, this is the kind of film where characters utter lines like the below with a straight face.

                                             "This is not time travel. This is time re-assignment."

That said, It is not my intention to denigrate the film for it is very entertaining at times and delivers an ending which is both pitch perfect and very smart in its own way.
Th real strong point of the film is that by keeping the viewer in the dark for so long as to the true intentions of the plot, that it allows them to create their own idea of what is happening and thus retains interest until the final reveal. This of course an old film making trick but it is used to good effect. What better way to keep a mystery engaging then to leave people to draw their own conclusions till the critical point.
All in all, this is a worthwhile piece of work and a cut above the standard multiplex fare. It requires you think along the lines of Christopher Nolan's recent Inception and anything that improves  the standard of Hollywood action pictures above the thrashy likes of Michael Bay and his oeuvre deserves praise. While not a classic, it is an entertaining picture and worth a look.

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