I thought maybe today I’d write something light-hearted after my 2 facebook fights yesterday (about my anti-war and anti-police posts). I saw the movie Source Code two weeks ago so I thought maybe I’d review it.
I’ll start off by saying it was “meh”… I didn’t love it, but I didn’t completely hate it. To be honest, I’d rather hate a film than be indifferent. I don’t think anyone is going to be talking about Source Code in 10 years like they talk about Citizen Kane or Plan 9 from Outer Space. It was a pretty mindless Hollywood disposable fluff movie. It was basically like Quantum Leap meets Groundhog Day, and I think other reviewers have made the same comparison.
First, the good: The opening sequence was pretty good as Jake Gyllenhaal’s character (spoilers) awakes to find himself on a train and he doesn’t know what’s going on. I thought this was an effective way to open the movie because the audience shared his bewilderment, and a little bit is revealed at a time. Good pacing. The action scenes were fairly exciting overall. The acting, although not top notch, was adequate. My favorite thing about this movie was the premise: After someone dies, there is an “afterglow” of their consciousness of about 8 minutes, much like there is an afterglow after you turn off a light bulb. The scientists in the field have found a way to hook someone into that consciousness in alternate realities. I think this is a very thought provoking possibility, and the writer could have taken this premise basically anywhere. I’m not sure this was the best vehicle for that idea, but it worked pretty well in general.
The bad: The repeated eight minutes got old really fast. For some reason, the time loop trick in films rarely works. Groundhog Day is a notable exception, probably because the highly repetitive scenes are used for comedy bits (think the insurance salesman) while the rest of the movie, although the same day, is different enough to hold your interest and takes place during a whole day so the landscapes and time of day changes throughout the film. In Source Code, it is the same eight minutes repeated in a small space (a train) so it gets a bit tedious and tiring. The other glaring flaw in the movie is the villain. He is obvious. The audience can guess pretty easily who the bomber is because you know 1. he has to exit the train at its one stop 2. It’s not the Middle Eastern guy because he’s the first one Gyllenhaal suspects. When Gyllenhaal finally figures it out, he could easily just kill him to stop the bomb (stupid protagonist mistake) but instead has a pointless conversation with him, allowing him to take his gun. This complaint is probably based on my own political views, but I hated how the newscast in the movie after the bomber is caught makes a point to say the bomber was “anti-government”… The bomber never said he was. And on a side note, most anti-government activists and anarchists advocate peace and the violence of the state is a big reason why they are anti-government in the first place. But I digress.
The biggest problem with the movie is the ending. I enjoy an open-ended ending, but this one didn’t make sense. Is Jake Gyllenhaal’s pilot character now going to live as the train passenger? While at the same time existing as a corpse in a tube while inhabiting a new source code? Will the world eventually just turn into the world of the Matrix Revolutions where everyone on planet earth is just another iteration of Jake Gyllenhaal? It didn’t make much sense. As I stated, I didn’t love it but didn’t hate it. Catch this movie, on DVD (save your money), if you want a smart premise and good action sequences executed in an okay movie full of stupid decisions and a nonsense ending. And as always, please forgive my stream of consciousness style of writing, hopefully this makes some sort of sense…
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