Duncan Jones, son of the most famous icon on the planet, catapulted himself into the Hollywood big leagues with his brilliant conceptual Sci-Fi drama concerning the most famous icon off the planet, Moon. With Source Code, his second film as a feature length director, Jones gives us his take on the Sci-Fi thriller and proves he’s no ‘one hit wonder.’
The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, who wakes up alone inside a door-less prison with only a monitor for communication with a military attired Vera Farmiga, the equivalent of Kevin Spacey’s role in Moon. Gyllenhaal is forced to repeatedly relive eight minutes preceding a terrorist attack from the perspective of one of its victims until he can identify whoever planted the bomb. These mini-Groundhog Days are made possible by a technology referred to as ‘source code,’ which in the tradition of all good Sci-Fi’s, revolves completely around paradoxical logic that can only be explained through simple metaphor. The plot gradually deforms via a multitude of far-fetched twists into absolute absurdity as the film progresses.
Nevertheless, it’s very well done absurdity. Chris Bacon’s scores take influence from Bernard Herrmann, capturing the fast pace and spontaneous rush of Gyllenhaal’s eight minute spats in the past perfectly. On the whole, the cast is well chosen, with the majority bringing weight to their roles, particularly Vera Farmiga, though I was slightly let down by Gyllenhaal‘s distinctly average performance. Furthermore, despite the fact that the film relentlessly builds tension, subtle undertones of humour keep it refreshing and draw attention away from how sore your ass is getting on the edge of your seat.
A paradox in itself, Source Code contrasts Groundhog Day’s lolling repetition and eerie inevitability with the eight minute explosive countdown each trip represents, enhanced by Farmiga’s pressuring on Gyllenhaal to identify the bomber before his next attack in the present. The terms set by the ‘source code’ dictate that Gyllenhaal’s actions in the past have no lasting impact. This is used to produce beautifully frustrating moments through his vain attempts to save Michelle Monaghan, the love interest of the film, along with the other victims of the bombing.
Source Code is the ultimate ‘think-buster,’ glossing over plot holes and logical fallibility with shiny Hollywood stars and spectacular visual effects. The result is a unique setting which may be absurd, but is perfect for generating tension and makes for a great thriller. Although it most certainly lacks the conceptual depth and striking melancholy of Moon, Source Code brings a refreshing sense of character and intelligence to a notoriously dumbed down genre. Duncan Jones has shown a capability to present his ‘niche’ style in a way that will have a mainstream appeal, which is as much a feat to me as Moon ever was if it only distracts my friends from making me see Sucker Punch with them…
Good – Tense, funny and inexplicable all round.
Bad – Ending is a bit of an anti-climax/ makes absolutely no sense.