If I had about 8 minutes to relive again and again, I think I’d choose….well….that’s a story for another day folks.
Jake Gyllenhaal portrays a soldier recruited for a time-bending government investigation that places him in another man’s mind and body, reliving the same traumatic event repeatedly in an effort to identify the perpetrators of a terrorist bombing. Vera Farmiga plays a communications specialist who provides the vital link to the soldier’s primary reality as he searches for critical clues within a recurring nightmare.
This is the sophomore effort by Duncan Jones, who some may know him as the director of the 2009 sleeper hit Moon, and others may know him as David Bowie’s son. But look out Bowie, your son is starting to pick up some steam now.
Probably the best thing about this film is the premise that is sort of a combination of Groundhog Day, Memento, and a slash of Inception that seems to work out so well. Duncan Jones is able to grab you into the film and direct it in a way that feels original enough that I didn’t think about its similarities to other films until it was over. The editing is also very solid, and you can’t stop but wonder what exactly is going to happen next, and the suspense works out very well. The movie never feels repetitive even though the same events happen over and over again because they’re each constructed differently enough to feel fresh.
My main problem with this film is that the script is kind of lackluster. Source Code is written by Ben Ripley, who previously wrote two straight-to-DVD Species sequels and one made-for-TV movie. The script has plenty of problems, mainly it being just a combination of ideas from other films without too much originality to it. There’s also a nice little amount of human depth to this story which I actually did like, but the ending here doesn’t do much to support that nice attribute.
While Jones does an excellent job giving the film humanity and life for most of the movie, the conclusion just feels forced and unauthentic. I don’t want to give away too much, but it feels like it should have ended on a much darker note than it does because either the writer or the studio didn’t want to scare away too many moviegoers. While I don’t mind happy endings when they happen in films like these, it’s just odd that this film seemed like it was going to go in another direction, but instead ended on a bad note.
The saving element to this film that really elevated was the performances from the cast, mainly Jake Gyllenhaal, who I think really needed this movie. Jake plays Colter Stevens, and right from the get-go you have no idea who this guy is, and how he’s going to act, but after awhile you really start to see the situation he’s in, and you can actually believe the steps he makes. His charm works here, and by the end you really do find yourself cheering him on, hoping that in the end it all works out. I think this film will really remind people as to why he is such a good leading man. Michelle Monaghan is cute and likable as Christina, and provides a good romantic interest for Gyllenhaal’s character. Vera Farmiga plays Goodwin, who is basically a head in a box, but she somehow elevates her character into a more developed persona and seems more human than I would have expected. The painfully underrated Jeffrey Wright is good here as Dr. Rutledge and makes the best of his villainous-like character.
Consensus: The ending and writing may be a bit of a bummer, but Source Code is uplifted by Duncan Jones’s fearless direction, and good performances from the cast, especially Jake Gyllenhaal, will keep viewers on the edge of their seat throughout the whole ride.