Posted by: greercn | April 1, 2011

Source Code

Whatever else you do in the next week, see “Source Code”. It’s absolutely unmissable. Original, fast-paced and beautifully written, this second feature directed by Duncan Jones (the former Zowie Bowie) proves that his 2009 debut “Moon” was no fluke hit, but the start of a brilliant career.

For a dynamic and different film, “Source Code” combines elements of “Groundhog Day”, “Total Recall”, “Deja Vu”, “Unstoppable” and, indeed, “Moon”. Montreal stands in for the American base from which our hero, Colter Stevens (a superb Jake Gyllenhaal) goes back in time to try and identify a train bomber.

I had a lot of fun identifying the Montreal settings and separating them from the Chicago scenes.

The special effects are just terrific. Even after you have seen the crucial explosion a few times, you jump in your seat, every time. Ben Ripley’s writing is so taut and spare that you ask yourself many interesting questions. I am assured by my serious scientist friend that the premise is good science, stretched just a tiny bit for dramatic effect.

Vera Farmiga was, for me, the best part of the irksome “Up In The Air” and she shines here as Coleen Goodwin, the military expert guiding Jake.

Michelle Monaghan is very good as Christina Warren and Jeffrey Wright sparkles too as Goodwin’s boss Dr Rutledge.  

Frederick De Grandpre must have the most thankless role of the year as Sean’s face. No, I will not explain that comment. You HAVE to see this.

As in “Moon”, difficult questions are asked about what it means to be human and how life becomes more valuable when it is under threat. There are some glorious insights that creep up on you, very gently and without any hint of preaching.

You can see it as a pure action thriller or view it on a deeper level, asking yourself questions about mortality and the nature of authentic life. What would you do in the last minute of your life, the film asks?

A clever device is the idea that our hero goes back in time – but only for the eight minutes before the explosion. However, he can go back again and again. And he does.

The Stratford Picturehouse audience seemed wrapped up in it and stayed uncharacteristically silent. Several staff members said that this was the current film they most wanted to see, based on the comments of those who had seen it.

So much dazzles here. The movement within the train is just magical. The outside views and inside scenes feel intimate and warm. Station and outdoor scenes show both alienation and intimacy.

If I were looking to find fault, I would say that bits of it feel glib and contrived, to please the action loving part of the crowd. On the other hand, these bits set up “Source Code 2” nicely and I am at the front of the queue to see that.

Do buy “Moon” on DVD. It’s out there and cheap. I find it rewards viewing after viewing.



  1. Good review. hoping to catch this and share my view over the weekend! Iain

    • Welcome and thank you for the comment

  2. I just came back from seeing it to find that you had already reviewed it. Ah, the advantages of time zones.

    Thoroughly enjoyable film, I agree, but the scientific premise gets a bit stretched out of shape at the very end (I wanted it to end a few short minutes earlier). However, I am willing to forgive Jake Gyllenhaal anything. If you’ll pardon the tasteless, plot-revealing pun, he’s one gorgeous hunk of man. 😉

    • Yes, the science is stretched (or so I am told) but it sets up a sequel. I would go see anything directed by Duncan Jones as this and “Moon” are both so very entertaining and different. Argh to your pun! That’s very punny (pun intended). What, you forgive Jake “Prince of Persia”? Okay, I know I do too.

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