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Source Code



Released: 1st April 2011

Directed By:Duncan Jones

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan

Certificate: 12

Reviewed By: Jason Coyle

Jake Gyllenhaal stars as a wounded helicopter pilot who is repeatedly sent back onto a train to re-live the same 8 minutes in the hopes he can learn who has planted a bomb on it. This rather ludicrous and quite straight faced spin on Groundhog Day ratchets up the tension with the fact that 8 minutes is a short amount of time to find out anything important, especially as he generally wastes the first couple of minutes of each journey talking to the woman sitting across from him Christina (Michelle Monaghan).

Source Code, Duncan Jones follow up to the critically acclaimed Moon is, to mangle a football cliché, a film of two halves. The first half is actually really good, setting up the story well, making you feel for the main character’s predicament, and willing him to succeed. There are also a few laughs to be had, as Gyllenhaal deadpans some lines based on the fact that he has seen all this before. But the second half of the film capitulates into the usual love story, seen it all before, happy ending, even somehow contriving to (as far as I can tell) break the laws of physics to provide it. Without entirely giving the ending away, the film wants to have its cake and eat it as well.

The acting ranges from the good, with Gyllenhaal convincing as a soldier and a lead actor, to the downright awful, Jeffrey Wright as the classic eccentric Hollywood scientist (is there any other kind in films?). Somewhere in between is Monaghan whose role is so underwritten, being the token love interest, it almost doesn’t exist. There is even a nod to this by Gyllenhaal’s character at the beginning of the film when thinking the whole thing is a simulation says to Monaghan that she is the classic female distraction in it.

The film itself, although a brisk 93 minutes long, is really poorly edited as the main mystery is solved with about 25 minutes remaining. The last 25 minutes then becomes long, slow and sentimental, aiming for a poignancy, which it has not earned. We just do not care enough about any of the characters for it to work in any way. There is also a shot near the end of Gylllenhaal lying down (all that can be said without spoiling) that in a nutshell sums up what this film is about. The message should be just because you have the technical effects skills to show something does not mean you should. If only Hollywood could learn that sometimes less is more. Overall this is a film with a good central idea not having the courage of its convictions. This is a pity as there is the genesis of a good film here.

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