Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Source Code


Source Code is the latest film from Duncan Jones, the up-and-coming director who you may remember from 2009’s wonderful sci-fi thriller Moon. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Colter Stevens, a US Air force pilot who finds himself part of a military experiment that allows for transferring the mind of a living person into the mind of a deceased person. The process is limited though, it only allows the living person to experience the last eight minutes of the deceased’s life before death. Colter is tasked with experiencing the repeated last eight minutes of the life of a schoolteacher who died aboard a train headed to Chicago. I won’t attempt to explain the quantum physics aspect of the story but he essentially is allowed to freely act as this person in an alternate timeline but returns to the real world upon death. Along for the ride is co-worker Christina Warren, played by Michelle Monaghan. Colter’s mission is to find a bomber who was aboard the train in the past and is believed to be planning to detonate a large bomb in downtown Chicago in the real world close future. Confused? Well imagine if Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day was aware that he would be reliving Groundhog Day and was actually a soldier looking for a suspected terrorist bomber. Got it?

The other side of time and reality involves Colter interacting with military scientist Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) and Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright), the creator of the Source Code experiment. Loosely interacting may be a better way to describe the situation as Gyllenhaal’s character spends his time stuck in a kind of futuristic cockpit where he speaks to a computer screen and is spoken to via a webcam, much like a Skype conversation. Although there isn’t much to either of the set pieces Jones finds a way to make this situation feel almost like a person talking to a god. The way that Gyllenhaal interacts with the Goodwin and the Doctor gives the scenes an unsettling and claustrophobic feel as he is forced to take orders from the people on the screen.

When I fall down on the train, no beautiful women help me up.

What’s great about Source Code is that the audience gets to learn and discover right along with the main character, we aren’t given any explanation at first so what Colter experiences throughout is what we the audience experiences. When the character awakens not knowing where he is or who anyone is, neither do we. Throughout the film we learn the stories of the other passengers in the train car and just as Colter falls for the adorable Christina Warren, we begin to fall for her, we want her and the others to be saved just as much as Colter does.

Working a few blocks away from O’hare, one thing that stood out for me was a shot of the Chicago loop filled with cars attempting to leave the city but getting nowhere. This five second shot hit close to home as some coworkers of mine have discussed this exact scenario before, it is a scary thought and one that I hope to never have to see. Source Code is one of the best films of 2011 (if not the best) and is a refreshing take on the science fiction genre. Duncan Jones is on a roll with the previously mentioned Moon and now Source Code. He is now at the top of my “upcoming directors to look out for” list and if he continues to bring such brilliant sci-fi to the screen then sign me up, Ill drive the bandwagon. In regards to the ending I found the reason for the bombing half baked. I wasn’t expecting Dr. Lecter but I wish they had spent a little more time flushing out the bomber character. In a time in which science fiction involves semi truck’s turning into robots flying in front of exploding buildings while a semi naked women runs away in slow motion it’s nice to see there’s at least one director out there making thought provoking sci-fi. This film gets 3 and half alternate time dimension pitchforks.

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Posted on July 25, 2011, in Devil's DVD Advocacy and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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