If you read my last post you know that I have a very large queue of movies lined up to watch. With the exception of two or three of these, I’ve never seen any of them, hence why they’re in a queue. When I got home from New Jersey yesterday I was exhausted. I had to unpack and get some things done around my room so I decided to put a movie on to help facilitate things. While it would have been smart to play one I’d seen before, therefore allowing me to pay very little attention to it, I did my random selection and wound up on “Source Code”. Being a fan of “Moon” (same director, Duncan Jones…and son of David Bowie!) I decided to pay closer attention while I unpacked my backpack and hooked up my computers. End result, I found myself sitting in my armchair for the majority of the film, being quite engrossed in the story. Let me tell you about it.
One of the first lessons I was taught in college was that once you take a film class you’ll never be able to watch a movie the same way again. This is completely true. Now I find myself looking in the corners for boom mic’s, reflections of the crew in passing cars, and of course trying to figure out the twist before it’s revealed. Therefore I truly enjoy when scripts go outside the box and come up with a twist that you can’t really guess, mainly because they’ve created the world in which you’re trapped for 90 minutes or so, so you play by their rules. This makes the game so much more interesting.
We open right in the middle of it with Jake Gyllenhaal waking up on a train, seemingly confused about his surroundings. Michelle Monaghan is sitting across from him talking to him and establishing the fact that they, or at least she, clearly know each other. This does not appear to be true to Jake. As he freaks out and starts claiming that he’s Colter Stevens of the United States Army and has no idea how he arrived on this train, he’s cut short by the entire thing exploding, which will put a real damper on anyone’s day. So as a viewer you’re now going, “Uh…okay?” Jake wakes up again, but this time in his army uniform and inside of a small pod with a screen. On that screen is Vera Farmiga, also decked out in military gear and talking to him as if they’ve been working together for awhile now. Through broken and short sentences we discover that Jake is part of a military secret called “Source Code” (go figure), a machine that allows a subject of perfect build and mind to inherit the being of someone else during a small window of time in the past; in this case it’s eight minutes aboard a train in Chicago. According to Farmiga the train was bombed earlier that day and everyone on board was killed, but they have the ability to send Jake back to the last eight minutes so that he can figure out who the bomber is, therefore giving the military the chance to stop the bomber before he blows up his second target of the day. In the words of the great Doc Emmett Brown, “Great Scott!”
Naturally over the course of film Jake has to go back to those eight minutes several times in order to figure out exactly who planted the bomb, but in doing so his desire to save everyone on board grows. Unfortunately all of those people are already dead as this event has already happened…or has it? This is one of the many questions that get answered as you race to figure it out for yourself. Allow me to save you the time and tell you that you won’t be able to, so don’t hurt yourself. Let this one wash over you and intrigue you.
Without giving away plot points or ruining anything that would make you not want to see it, I do feel that it’s fair to deliver the one issue I had with this film. It actually comes from another lesson learned from a college film class, and that is that American’s cannot handle sad endings. I’m sure a lot of you are reading this going, “What? I saw “The Notebook”, of course I can.” and technically that’s true. So allow me to rephrase; American box offices cannot handle sad endings. Movies with depressing endings tend to not do as well in American theaters because when we were children we were taught that everything always ends happily. For example, “Dodgeball” originally had Vince Vaughn’s team losing, and that was it. How much would that have sucked? I apologize, I’m getting away from the point here. There is a moment in “Source Code” where I thought it had ended, and to be honest with you it wasn’t the “happy” ending I had thought was coming, but I was okay with that. What I thought I was seeing was perfect as it wrapped up the story, didn’t leave any questions to be asked, and it just…fit. But a couple seconds later I sat back down in my chair as it continued, and kind of went a different way than expected. Don’t take this as a reason not to see the movie, you should definitely give it a watch because there aren’t enough “smart” movies like this anymore. When you get to the end try to remember what I just said and see if you agree with me. Are you more like the majority of Americans or can you point out a truly good ending when you see one?
DIRECTOR’S CUT: Jake Gyllenhaal has always been an extremely talented actor in all veins, and “Source Code” doesn’t miss the mark. Try to keep up as it’s fast, but I guarantee you won’t be let down by the credits.