Source Code (2011)
Director: Duncan Jones
Jeffrey Wright/Dr. Rutledge
Soldier Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up on a train. He has no idea how he got there, who the hottie (Michelle Monaghan) sitting across from him is and why his ID has another name & face on it. The train then blows up to Kibble & Bits…the end? Nope! Then the real shite hits the real fan!
Ah, I needed a movie like this to start the day on the right stab! Smart, taunt, affecting, filled with back handing plot turns, cerebrally (I know it's not a word but it is for today) stimulating yet effortless to sit through. Muchos gracias cabrone! Having boogied to DUNCAN JONES Sci-Fi debut MOON; I beamed up to his follow up SOURCE CODE with my hopes sky high for a rocking good time. I had actually avoided the trailers and reading about it as a whole (tough when you run a movie website, but I managed to wing it); wanting to go in there all virgin and shit. So did I get jipped on this one or what? F*ck no!
SOURCE CODE snagged me at frame 1 with its potent areal shots, set to an energetic, old school score that SCREAMED Alfred Hitchcock and then went on to take me on a wild, multi-layered ride. Yup, this one did right by me on three levels. It started off as a potent mind-rape; with our sympathetic lead player being tossed into a situation with zero notion as to what was going on. And much like him I was lost in the motherf*cking wind; yearning to situate myself and make sense of all the confusion. The flick eventually threw me a bone; but it didn't sit on its ass and take a cigarette break. Au contraire, it immediately launched me into a compelling whodunit that had me guessing left, right and under your sheets. On top of that, it managed to fit in a subtle and endearing love story and an estranged father/son relationship subplot while bringing up themes of "what is reality", redemption and the after life. How's that for a full Taco plate?! You hungry for more? Need re-fried beans on the side? Sour cream perhaps? Fear not; this mofo's got more!
Big props to screenwriter Ben Ripley for his visceral and clever puzzle like screenplay. The dude got in the biz via his work on the cheapie alien-tit fests Species Part 3 & 4, so SOURCE CODE is a huge step up (da streets) for the lad. Although derivative of other Sci-Fi affairs (Total Recall, Butterfly Effect, The Matrix, Déjà Vu, Inception... shite even the comedy Groundhog Day came to mind), his SOURCE CODE screenplay had such an earnest feel to it and was put together so tightly that it packed quite the wallop.
And thankfully, director Duncan Jones and star Jake Gyllenhaal were up to the task. They cranked up their talents to 200 and brought this sucker home with gusto. Jones shot with a firm hand, putting out striking imagery, goose bump inducing moments (the slow mo, the freeze frame...nice) while masterfully milking the tension out of every scenario. I also really dug the mood he gave the thing; for some reason, all I kept thinking was, yup once again, old school Hitchcock…if he did Sci-Fi that is. Maybe it was the whodunit, the train setting or the hero trying to make sense of a situation that makes no sense... not sure... but the "Master" popping in my head was in itself a grandiose compliment. As for Gyllenhaal, well he held the movie together with his intense, grounded and poignant showcase. He definitely gave me a hero to care and root for. Am not sure WHEN Gyllenhaal made the jump from awkward young man to leading man status; but hey I like it! There was this one emotionally laced bit within the last block of the movie that had my heart in a vice-grip; and it was Gyllenhaal’s performance that made that happen. Kudos! The rest of the cast was tops as well with Michelle Monaghan and Vera Farmiga lending The Gyll some able support. The former should win an Oscar for Most Charismatic and Best Smile of the year and gorgeous Farmiga gave depth to what was otherwise a fairly 2 note role. Both ladies were enchanting and gave the whole that sweet feminine touch it needed. Add to all that class; a powerful cap-off that kind of went against the grain but "got me" none the less and gave me lots to think about afterward and a fascinating take on its science fiction, one that went beyond the usual mold to enter an almost spiritual realm and you get one of the best and meatier thrillers of the year.
Did I have any peeves with it? Yes, but they were mostly of the nitpicking variety. Some of the visual effects failed me (the train blowing up at the beginning is a good example); kind of looked cheapo and hurt the film's cred. And was I alone in thinking that Vera Farmiga's costume came off like it was stolen off the rack of a Halloween store? Didn’t sell me as a true military get-up... even a futuristic one. Furthermore, some of the secondary characters reeked of amateur hour, got on my nerves and would take me out of the story (like comedian Russell Peters, who's actually a pretty funny stand-up, he's just not an actor). Lastly, Jeffrey Wright let me down... which was a first for me, being that I usually love the dude and think he’s incredible. But here; the raspy "drank and smoked too much last night" voice and the cold-fish posturing were a poor substitute for a well rounded performance. Sorry man... you know I love ya though.
Overall SOURCE CODE was pretty much on top of its game through and through. I had a rewarding sit down with it and hope you do too! Am off to go start trouble that I can't handle... and then I'll handle it.
Some light blood and a couple of graphic bits that I can't reveal as it would SPOIL the movie.
T & A
Nope! Not that kind of party... all good.
SOURCE CODE was Hitchcock meets K. Dick, by way of Twilight Zone and Quantum Leap. Put that in your bong and smoke it! It sported a furious pace, was well written, acted to a T (I raise my glass to Gyllenhaal, Monaghan & Farmiga... cheers!) with striking visuals and enough plot twists to keep me going. Jeffrey Wright, some of the visual effects and supporting actors didn't do it for me but those are minor qualms in what was otherwise an outstanding, thought provoking and moving film. It's a must see for Sci-Fi fans! That's 2 for 2 now. Looks like Duncan Jones is the real Sci-Fi auteur deal. Keep it up mate! Can't wait to see what you do next!
The flick was shot in my home town of Montreal, Canada. Some scenes were also shot in Chicago, Illinois (like at the Millennium Park).
Clint Mansell (who scored Moon) was set to do this one; but had to book due to time constraints. Chris P. Bacon took over.
Topher Grace was at a certain point considered for the role of Colter Stevens.