Sunday 3 April 2011

Review: Source Code

Year: 2011
Director: Duncan Jones
Screenplay: Ben Ripley
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffery Wright

Synopsis is here

Roger Ebert's review on Source Code states that the science within the film is preposterous. I don't disagree in the slightest. I dare all the budding Brian Cox's to try and get their head around it. Like Indiana Jones taking more liberties than time team would like to acknowledge, Source Code plays fast and loose with quantum physics with the clear knowledge that most of the audience will not be experts. This provides issues with the film particularly near the end which could leave people scratching their head and not in that musing, good way. However, the key to the film is conviction. There's something about Chris Bacon's lively and Hitchcockain score, Jeffery Wright's amusingly crotchety but forceful scientist and the whole explanation of the situation  at hand that makes the unbelievable viable.

Checked the synopsis? Well yes the film does give illusion to Groundhog Day, however it's obvious from the films science and sly voice cameo that Jones is more interested in Quantum Leap than Bill Murray. The film also touches on themes that were nicely established in Jones' first feature Moon. The cyclical nature of the hero's journey and the wish to break from it, that the sacrifice of one benefits the many and the difficult relationship between employers and employees when one has found a way to take advantage of the other. Jones complies these themes well and tells it in a story that feels remarkably fresh. There's enough in the film to entertain throughout.

But we shouldn't give Jones all the credit. The direction of the pace of the material as well as the flow of information is well handled. However, much has to be said about Ben Ripley's screenplay which is constantly involving from many angles. We're not only interested in the idea of Source Code, but also the plight of the solider. How the hell did he get into such a position? Now that he's there; will he ever escape it? There's a love story forming within the film, with the knowledge that we now, how can it survive? The combination of Ripley's questions and Jones' energy put the stakes right into the forefront. Once we get more information on the situation (the twists drop in at just the right moments) there is the question on if it feeling slightly futile. However, the drive of the character and their right to be allowed to do what they wish (sorry if this sounds vague, trying to not lay the plot bare) is what keeps the risk alive and the film entertaining as a whole.

The acting here is solid. Nothing groundbreaking by any accounts but all good turns from likable actors. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michelle Monaghan have a cute chemistry and bounce well off each other. Vera Farmiga's performance is a little bland. However, considering the part is merely a holding one, she does what is expected.

Source Code is a film which is full of fridge logic, however, like Limitless and the Adjustment Bureau before it, there's more than enough humanity and conviction in it's execution to enjoy what's on screen. I liked these people, was genuinely surprised with how they dealt with their situation at times and felt thoroughly satisfied (although a tad perplexed) with the outcome. Like a few recent films, the films final codec feels a little tacked on try and keep everyone sweet. However, when it's all said and done; Source Code is a enjoyable, sometimes thoughtful companion piece to Jones' first feature.