“Source Code” (2011) — At a time when most science fiction films are either schlock (talking to you, “Transformers”) or reboots on old Philip K. Dick short stories, director Duncan Jones is reminding us that it’s OK to think at the movies.
His 2009 sleeper “Moon” (a previous back-shelf pick), was a slow, haunting lunar base drama with a few tricks up its sleeve.
“Source Code” goes closer to mainstream, an action-packed vehicle starring Jake Gyllenhaal as an Army helicopter pilot zapped into the brain of a stranger on a Chicago commuter train. The train is going to explode in eight minutes, and it’s his job to find the bomber. If he doesn’t, he’ll have to zap back again and again, in a high-energy version of “Groundhog Day.”
My wife thought this sounded like a total guy flick, but I got her to give it a chance by convincing her that, at it’s heart, “Souce Code” is a love story. The Army pilot meets a beautiful woman on the train (Michelle Monaghan), and somewhere in the middle of his darting about to save the train and greater Chicago, he falls for her. It becomes a meditation about time and the way we spend it, so, of course, love plays a part.
My wife would have bought the chick-flick angle if the movie weren’t so chock-full of explosions. She seemed to actually like it, anyway.
GEEK ALERT: Most people looking for holes in the film will look at the science if the premise. OK, so how does going into a dead guy's brain not only take you to the last few minutes of memory but also gives you access to alternate realities that you can change?
I'm going to put that aside. To me, the biggest hole in the story is the unintended, undiscussed victim. What about the freakin' teacher? You know, the guy who's body Jake G bounces into. What happens to HIS life? Somehow he gets bumped from his cranium and we're all supposed to feel OK about this because we didn't know him? Really.