Thursday, April 14, 2011

SOURCE CODE -- my review

SOURCE CODE is a techno-thriller meets GROUNDHOG DAY. I guess because television now does drama and suspense far better than the movies (and you never have to worry about Matthew McConaughey starring in any of them), Hollywood now believes every feature thriller has to be high-concept. Hence INCEPTION, THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU, HOP. But of all these recent big idea films, SOURCE CODE is by far the best.

And here’s why.

You probably know the premise. A decorated soldier gets put on a commuter train to Chicago to try to uncover a bomb and a terrorist in eight minutes. And when he fails he just keeps going back and going back. So a large portion of the movie is set on this train. And when it is, SOURCE CODE becomes a movie about human behavior. There’s no whiz-bang special effects. No one walks through portals. The city doesn’t fold into itself. Thor doesn't save the day.

It’s just a regular guy trying to solve a tricky puzzle and along the way establish a romantic relationship… while the fate of the world hangs in the balance.

Jake Gyllenhaal is the guy and is terrific. Michelle Monaghan is the girl and you could see why Jake, or anybody, would want to fall in love with her. Too bad Jake wasn’t a Zoloft salesman like he was in his last movie. The sex scenes between him and Monaghan would have been sweet! So the world blows up? Earn that Hard-R!

Another standout in the movie for me was Vera Farmiga. I just find her so sexy. And when you can look hot when wearing your hair up and in an Air Force uniform, to me that’s the true test.

Kudos to Ben Ripley for a wildly imaginative script. And Duncan Jones' top notch directing made the implausible premise seem almost plausible. 

Oh sure, you’ll walk out pondering, “Just how does this time warp concept work again?”, and "Isn't there a food car on this train?"  But at least they set up rules and seemed to abide by them. All too often in these techno-thrill rides they just keep making up new ones as they go along. Well, it turns out there’s a black hole that if you go through while in REM sleep during Passover you have your choice of being invisible or getting zero down on the purchase of a new Prius.

But I highly recommend SOURCE CODE. And the great thing is, if you get to the theater a little late, it pretty starts over every eight minutes!

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

For this one, I'll be Anonymous, thank you.

But I thought you might be interested in this "back story" item concerning the movie.

It seems a couple of Metra employees (Metra being the public agency that runs commuter railroads in the Chicago area) tried to shake down the film's location manager for a little somethin' extra for agreeing to urge Metra to let its train be filed....

Steve Zeoli said...

Haven't seen the film yet, but agree whole-heartedly on Vera Farmiga. She's not only very sexy, she's also a terrific actress. She needs to be in more films!

Hollywoodaholic said...

My 14 year-old son and I both enjoyed this immensely, so it passed the short and long attention spans test at the same time. Quite an accomplishment. Credit to a unique, tight script and performances that make you care about what's going on, even when you're not always sure.

Stoic said...

I'm glad you recognized Vera Farmiga terrific acting talents first before noting her sexiness...oh, wait.

GregN said...

Matthew McConaughey:

Had never seen him before Lincoln Lawyer, but he was actually very good in it.

Was also nice to see a theater full of adults!

rumorsontheinternets.org said...

Hi Ken,

I too enjoyed Source Code, but didn't the ending seem a little preposterous to you? [Spoilers to come, obviously.]

I would have been utterly satisfied if what initially appeared to be the ending (the moment where everyone was frozen in the train car listening to the comedian) had held up. It was poignant and touching. Instead, the film then veered off into a wish-fulfillment fantasy happy ending. The whole thing felt as though it'd been overhauled based on test screenings and studio notes. When the film finally did end, I was left with a feeling of bafflement.

danrydell said...

I liked it a lot, and the cast was great. The only problem I had was the way they shot the ending. Maybe it's just me, but I got confused about the timing of events to where I didn't understand the movie. But it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the movie. Great stuff.

Sebastian said...

Mr. Soderberg... I think... I think now would be a good time for me to take my shirt off...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuYD2cwMbpw

Mike said...

I haven't seen this yet -- but I can't recommend Duncan Jones's previous film Moon enough. One of those movies that you enjoy the heck out of, but then almost as soon as it is over, you start to hate it because you wish you could have written it.

gottacook said...

I probably would like Source Code - sounds a little like Run Lola Run (i.e., Lola Rennt) but sped up; also reminds me of a favorite latter-day Star Trek episode, "Cause and Effect" (1992).

I've also heard that Jones' previous film Moon is well worth seeing.

H_Ram said...

My only problem was that the first stirrings of the romance seemed to be based on absolutely nothing.

Oh, and that the ticket guy never asked for Michelle Monaghan's ticket.

jackscribe said...

Best role Jake has handled in quite a while, and Vera's terrific. For those who are nitpicking about vagarities, I say...RELAX AND GO WITH THE FLOW. Along with Lincoln Lawyer, Source Code's an entertaining film created for adults.

Richard J. Marcej said...

I agree with a few other posters. The ending was fine. It DIDN'T need that "happy ending". It seemed slapped on. If that was how the original script ended, then (IMO) the script wasn't as strong as I thought it was. If it was changed due to testing, then shame on you studio.

H_Ram @"Oh, and that the ticket guy never asked for Michelle Monaghan's ticket."

Since this was a commuter train, where people jump on and off at different stops along the way, I just assumed that Sean (the teacher's body he inhabited) got on at a stop after she did, that her ticket was already punched.

@"My only problem was that the first stirrings of the romance seemed to be based on absolutely nothing."

Well, no. It had been established that the two of them had been riding this commuter train for some time. It was evident that she had feelings towards him, and I wouldn't be surprised if Sean had some feelings as well. Perhaps by inhabiting Sean's body he felt those same feelings too.

Chris said...

Here's one for your friday questions - what does a "producer" credit at the beggining of each episode mean?

Johnny Walker said...

I just wrote a whole big review and it got lost in the ether. How sad.

I basically said that I enjoyed it, too. I can see all the flaws that people have mentioned, but the pros vastly outweighed them.

Great job all round.

Sara said...

I loved it until the last 10 minutes dumped a shitload of cheese and handwaving onto the story :(

But as long as I don't acknowledge the last 10 minutes, it was a beautiful and smart and bittersweet film.

Phil Lowe said...

Haven't seen the film yet. Possibly will and looking forward to those last ten minutes. lol

Bruce said...

I thoght it was good, a couple of nice plot twists during the whole thing. The ending was fine for what the story was. Sorry but if your going to buy into and go along with time travel and every other implausable part of the movie you can't be too shocked or taken back with a classic quantam mechanics scifi twist at the end. My wife was confused by the ending too but it made sense to me.

Tim W. said...

Glad you liked it because it was one of my favourite movies of the year, so far. That and Limitless, believe it or not (although it is a little flawed).

As for the ending, I didn't mind it. I understand the complaints completely, and certainly wouldn't have been upset at all if it ended at that one point, but I thought it did make sense in the context of the story.

Carlos M Hernandez said...

I'm not sure people thought the ending was implausible (it isn't if you buy into the concept, and if you sat in the theater for two hours I'm sure you bought into the concept), it's that it wasn't needed.

To me, the extra 10 minutes after the masterful freeze frame ending was added on for two reasons:

1. To explain the story further in case people didn't want to buy into Sean's hope

2. Set-up a sequel. I said it.

unkystan said...

I saw it, I liked it, I bought into most of it. But the one thing that nagged me as soon as it ended was, what about that poor schmuck Shawn? His soul just disappears? Even Sam Beckett left the body and gave it back to it's rightful owner!

Cap'n Bob said...

A Chicago public official trying to collect payola? I'm shocked--SHOCKED!--to hear such a thing.

Larry said...

You say there's no whiz-bang special effects in Source Code, but it had one of the best shots I've seen in years. I'm still not sure how they did it. I'm referring to Jake Gyllenhaal jumping off a moving train. Looked very real.

Lairbo said...

I liked this movie better when it was called 12 Monkeys.

WV: bolamece; ill-advised attempt by character actor to market instant soup from his family recipes.

BCinVA said...

Long time reader, first time commenter. I loved the movie, didn't have any issues with the ending until the comment above about poor Sean....

Yes to Jake G., Michelle M,, big Yes to Vera F and another one for the mad scientist, Jeffrey Wright.