Source Code

Let’s return briefly to our previous review, Drive. There wasn’t space enough to add another pet peeve in the review and it felt wrong to add more negativity to the review. Also, it may have looked guilty of this particular accusation, but it wasn’t. Drive opened with the robbery sequence. Once the driver has managed to shake off the cops, he leaves the underground parking and, lo and behold, it’s time for the movie credits after all. We must’ve been in the cinema for about fifteen minutes by now…

The credits and the need to do away with them… do we have to blame Christopher Nolan for this? He’s definitely a culprit but at least he had good reasons not to start his movies with credit sequences: Batman Begins is a movie which leads up to the moment the caped crusader becomes Batman. To end your movie with the credits is, given the film’s theme and title, not bad. I’m not sure if Memento is also creditless at first, but that film was told in reverse anyway. Anyway, in such cases we understand the reason to leave out the opening credits. US television series are facing the same problem: the credits sequence seems to have moved to the beginning of the second part, so right after the first commercial break. The commercial suits have become so mortally afraid of someone hopping away to another channel that they seemingly ruined television for all the viewers. Gone are the days of wonderful teasers, a couple of minutes long, followed by the familiar credits and off the show went. Is this why it’s also done in cinemas? We don’t know. Is it done because otherwise moviegoers wouldn’t mind popping in a couple of minutes late and thus missing out on the commercials preceding the film? You can’t channelhop in a cinema after all. But for our entertainment value, unless it’s done for a good reason, a film needs to start with opening credits. As David Cronenberg once said, credits help you leave the real world and go to the world inside the film. Crazy, stupid, love had good credits: the under-table romance shots in a restaurant had told us the marriage of Carell and Stone was over before she asked for a divorce.

Source Code kicks off with credits – erm… yes, it took us 380 words to get to today’s topic – and they aren’t the most mindblowing credits out there, but at least they’re there. The film opens with an aerial shot going towards a train and a split second later Jake Gyllenhaal‘s character wakes up in a train. The cute woman in front of him calls him Sean, even though that isn’t his name. Worse even, the face in the mirror is not his own face. A little while later, the train explodes. Not good.

Turns out there was a good reason why the man didn’t feel like Sean: he isn’t. He is Colter Stevens, a soldier who’s working for a brand new experiment: apparently there are a couple of people whose brains can connect to other people just before a fatal movement, like a train explosion. Sliding between the real world and the unreal world isn’t so unpeculiar for the film’s director, Duncan Jones, who debuted in 2009 with Moon. Familiar territory for him then, but not for us, the viewers, and for Colter: he and we can’t understand why Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga), the military woman at the other side of the experiment, reacts so cool. Never mind, viewer, all will be explained later.

Before “later”, Stevens has to return again and again to those eight minutes on the train which led up to the explosion: only when he’s found the bomber will this mission be over. However, because Stevens can walk freely in these eight minutes, the experience will be different every time. Not that we’re complaining: not only is it possible for Stevens to find the terrorist, we can also see more of Sean’s good friend Christina (Michelle Monaghan), the only character on the train that gets some character development.

That may be the best part of the film. The worst part… well, it seems as if Hollywood is now run by 14-year-old girls. Source Code ends in such a sugarsweet fashion we had to watch a Melissa Joan Hart Christmas movie afterwards or we’d faced a cold turkey. Not only is the ending awful, it doesn’t make sense. At one point in the film, the action pauses. Had the film ended there, it would have been a contender for our Top 10 [there is one film in the cinema and one film on dvd we still need to watch before we can give you the list of 2011, so stay tuned…]. Now it won’t be there. Oh, it’s not a bad movie, far from, but the only price this deserves is “tackiest ending of 2011”. If Duncan Jones can send us his details, we’ll send him our Golden Lump.

7/10

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One thought on “Source Code

  1. deeopey January 4, 2012 / 10:03

    Agreed again.

    I have high hopes for Duncan Jones in the future, and he made a good job of turning this script in to a film more interesting than it should’ve been.

    If only this was the Hollywood default blockbuster though, you can’t turn off your brain, it has some excitement, it keeps you guessing. It’s not perfect but this is a blockbuster worth seeing as opposed virtually everything else this year.

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