Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Source Code

Duncan Jones’ second film is as interesting and different as Moon; and is best described as a cross between Quantum Leap and Groundhog Day. The Source Code, as programmed by Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright), is a Matrix-like computer interface that allows a test subject to enter the last 8 minutes of a dead guy’s life. In this case US pilot Colter Stephens (Jake Gyllenhall) enters the body of a bloke who has already died on a train. The train had been blown up by a terrorist, and so Colter’s mission is to find the bomber on the train so that he doesn’t detonate a nuclear device in Chicago, in the future.

Get it? Think: Dr Sam Beckett leaps into a guy on a train and has to stop it exploding as well as another bomb in Chicago. Except that he only has 8 minutes, but he gets to try again and again. It’s quite a bizarre concept yet it works well; as Colter finds out more about how he got into this experimental military program, Jake gives a very mature performance as his life seems to spin out of control. Constantly flipping between the two characters of Colter and Stevens (the dead bloke on the train whose body Colter “leaps” into), Jake convincingly manages to shift from confused and questioning to frantic and desperate.

Michelle Monaghan is the “love interest” on the train and was fairly incidental; Vera Farmiga plays Colleen Goodwin - essentially the military officer on the other end of a computer screen who talks to Colter, telling him his mission and helping him through. Jeffrey Wright’s Dr. Rutledge is also fine, but all the support cast are really incidental as this is really Jake’s film, and he does a really good job, nothing amazing; though perhaps comparisons with Sam Rockwell’s excellent performance in Moon are inevitable.

Writer Ben Ripley and director Duncan Jones manage to distill this rather abstract and complex premise for a story and tell it in a snappy 90 minutes. They manage to maintain the interest and emotional element without getting bogged down in convoluted exposition which would have really killed the film. What remains is a neat, tight story driven by a smart performance by Jake, but with enough intrigue and mystery to keep the audience on their toes; throw in some subtle special effects and some clever editing and Source Code is a cool, entertaining film.

And if you still don’t believe me about Quantum Leap, I would like to point out that the voice of Colter’s Dad on the end of a phone call is none other than Scott Bakula! How cool is that?!