By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) -
When I first saw the previews for Source Code I was a bit less than impressed.They didn’t promise a whole lot outside of the basic premise, which was good enough for a rental.However, it didn’t appear to have a whole lot more upside than that.I found out David Bowie-spawn Duncan Jones was the director a bit after that, and my expectations rose because Moon was pretty sweet.Still, the trailer made it hard to get your hopes up.
Well, thankfully I didn’t make my decision completely based on the blah marketing.Source Code is far more than the one-trick pony I thought it’d be. It starts off with the premise we’re introduced to in the preview, a man wakes up in the body of a strange man on a Chicago transit train and is pretty much just confused until the train blows up 8 minutes later.
He wakes up after this in a strange chamber, with military personnel telling him he is reliving the last eight minutes of another man’s life in order to find out who blew up the train, and that he will be sent back to relive those same eight minutes until he does.
With that setup, obviously the stakes are high from the start, but to fill a feature-length running time after that you’ll need to get creative.Turns out the filmmakers have plenty more tricks up their sleeve, as the twists and revelations come at a blistering pace.I’d be doing you a disservice to tell you much more than that.
The strength of this film is precisely where Sucker Punch recently failed.Source Code also created a highly imaginative world with plenty of technical flair, but this time it got the important stuff right.Namely, introducing some rules for your alternate reality so that the audience knows where it stands and then establishing consequences that tie together what happens in it to the “real world”.This is what builds tension and gets you rooting for the characters, instead of just watching them stab and shoot stuff.
Also, the performances are all legit and believable, with special kudos to the chemistry between Gylenhaal and Michelle Monaghan, who plays the woman he keeps butting into whenever he relives those eight minutes.They don’t have a lot of time to build a convincing romance, and the fact that they were able to was particularly impressive.
The camerawork is excellent, showing a side of Chicago that doesn’t usually get the cinema treatment.A final tip of the glass should go to the surprising amount of humor, although I guess the possibilities for that had already been established by another movie…
The one complaint I heard about the movie before watching it was the plot holes.Well, on the plus side, there really aren’t any, but I can see how people would think there were.If you’re paying attention, you’ll figure it out, but what’s aggravating is how long it takes our main character to.He (and we) get all the clues we need short of enlisting Blue to help explain it, but it still takes way too long for him to figure out why he can’t do what he wants to so badly.
The ending’s also been getting a lot of heat from certain circles, but I don’t really have a problem with it, either.It’s foreshadowed throughout the flick and makes perfect sense within the confines of the rules the movie establishes.If you disagree, I’m down for some stimulating debates on the message board…
Don’t expect a mind-blowing mass of stimulating confusion like Inception, but perhaps that’s not always a bad thing.You will get a good flick that’ll keep you guessing and provide plenty of thrills (and a little post-movie dinner debate), and if you’re not ready for that by now in 2011 you’ve been watching different movies than me.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a drink: every time he is sent back to try again
Take a drink: every time you see a Dunkin Donuts logo
Drink a shot: when you get confused.That ought to help.