despite its title, source code doesn’t have anything to do with the magazine the source. it’s not at all about the codes of hip hop, or the street, or anything “urban.” it’s also not about the creation of linux to cash in on the success of the social network. instead, it’s a sci-fi action thriller about how donnie darko has only eight minutes to figure out who the terrorist is to prevent terrorist attacks. but oh it gets more complicated than that. i forgot that the prince of persia can reverse time, which would also come in handy when you’re a terrorist attack preventer, but i totally forgot that we watched that movie. and if you haven’t seen it, just forget that it exists.
anyway, source code is duncan bowie jones’ second movie after moon, which everyone loves. since this is one of the rare instances where we review a movie that is still in theatres, i won’t go into the plot too much and skip over the details. what is the statute of limitations on these things anyway? can i finally say that bruce willis was keyser soze who was actually dead all along and the killer is actually tim robbins, whose rosebud is actually a woman?
jake gyllenhaal plays colter stevens, who wakes up on a train in chicago that will be blown up by terrorist. but through the scientific source code, he’s able to relive the last eight minutes before the train blows up over and over again until he finds the terrorist. the film quickly gets the logistics out of the way, about who he is and how he’s on the train and how he’s able to accomplish his mission. as per films of this structure and premise, there are a few constants that you can count on as reality. there’s one of the monaghans, michelle(eagle eye) this time, according to imdb, as a female companion on the train. in our reality, there’s vera farmiga as donnie darko’s handler/contact, and jeffrey wright(basquiat), as the boss of the whole operation. as one of the passengers on the soon-to-be-blown-up train, russell peters steals most of the scenes he’s in.
yes, based on the trailer and reviews and internet chatters and the above summary, it sounds like an action version of groundhog day, with deja vu and unstoppable thrown in. but i think that’s because they don’t want to give anything away. either that or they haven’t actually seen the movie. it actually reminds me more of run lola run, the matrix, avatar. i’m pretty sure that there’s an episode of star trek: the next generation that’s based on the same premise.
if you’ve noticed, most of the references i’ve made are sci-fi. that’s because source code, underneath the action movie surface, is a sci-fi movie. duncan bowie jones doesn’t seem to be very interested in making a straight we’ve-gotta-stop-the-bomb-on-the-train movie. the movie takes you to a direction that a tony scott or jan de bont movie wouldn’t take. this is evidence in the fact that the bomb itself is rather simplistic and the fact that i figured out who the terrorist is pretty early on. not all the twists come as a surprise.
while the decision to take the film into a different direction is admirable, i don’t think it works as well as they hoped. with its eight minutes at a time structure, none of the emotional stuff actually pays off. we simply don’t know the characters well enough, except maybe the gyllenhaal character. wright’s acting also seems out of place at first, though i did eventually get used to it. it is technically well made and i do appreciate movies that don’t explain everything single thing(the things they did make obvious, like the terrorist’s motive, is especially lame). but much like those lord of the rings movies that some people love, the ending(s) not only goes on and on and on, it also seems to just want to fuck with your head instead of serving the movie as a whole. i didn’t necessarily feel like i was jerked around, but then i don’t exactly feel satisfied either.
i don’t really regret seeing it in theatres and i wouldn’t mind watching it again when it’s on dvd a second time just to see if i will find things i missed the first time(which i didn’t feel after memento or inception, so suck it nolan fanboys). right after the movie was over i couldn’t wait to get home and try to find some answers. which turned out to be four, five hours. the next day i finally realize i was just going around in circles, a paradox if you will. it’s a phillip k dick-ian yarn that’s way better than paycheck or next, but not quite up there with minority report or the (first) matrix.
everyone else seems to love it more than i do. maybe it’s the good will left from moon. many mentioned the fact that it’s surprisingly complex compare to the usual bomb/terrorist action thriller. in the end i guess i admired it more than i enjoyed it. it’s a sad state for movies when a somewhat forced mindfuck is elevated to the status of a deep sophisticated experience. there is a slight difference between not being dumb and actually being smart. but then again, maybe they saw the same marvel/3D/teenage picture book sponsored trailers as i did. it’s gonna be a rough summer.