Film Thursday – Source Code


Source Code

The problem with visiting the cinema is, the gap between trailers being shown and the film actually starting is pretty small. If I have my way, trailer would come first, then adverts, then film. Because then I wouldn’t be stuck in the compromising situation that arose with Source Code.

Source Code is one of those films – the less you know about it, the better it can be when you watch it. This of course is in direct contradiction of trailers – which tries to hook you with the film’s unique premise so that you’d go “Hmm… I’ll give that one a watch.” Of course by giving the premise away, you start the film with better knowledge than the protagonist of what type of journey they’re embarking on – and in worse cases, you’re still in better shoes than the protagonist 2/3 way through the film.

Anyway, I digress. If you haven’t seen the trailer already, feel free not to watch it, but also feel free not to read the rest of the review – because you’re probably gonna enjoy it a lot more. It stars one of the class acts of our time:

the Gyllenhaal Heath Ledge kissed instead of throwing off a building

… opposite a bunch of familiar faces but all of which of much lower calibre.

If I’m honest, Source Code is not a performance piece – don’t get me wrong, the actors earn their keep to sucker us into suspense of disbelief, I did think she was sitting there on the train, he was definitely walking around his office in deep thoughts, and she was talking to a computer screen for the entire film. And when everyone’s under pressure to emot on screen for their next big break in Hollywood, chemistry become somewhat forced and everything becomes more “told” than “shown”.

But none of that stuff should bother you – if you’ve seen the trailer, you know what you’re expecting. A film where the protagonist tries to save a girl on a train that he “quantum leaped” into, through “the Source Code” (because every scientific projects are now named based on whether it’d make a good sounding Hollywood film) upon events that had already taken place.

The trailer really tries hard to tell you in your face that “he’s not gonna save the girl”, but after you’ve wiped your face wondering how your monitor or TV just spat at you so hard, you pretty much know what they’re REALLY saying – “But he will save the girl through our clever twist that we’re not showing you.”

And this is what troubled me more than anything about the film – the film stands on its own two feet just fine, but when a trailer tells me that there’s a clever twist at the end, I become cynical. The best twists in cinema history were done unexpectingly, until M. Knight whatyoumajig came along and fucked it all up. Said films didn’t imply the prospect of twists, red hierrings were used and emphasis placed elsewhere.

Speaking of Red Hierrings, the first half of the film was more or less “whodunit” with a bit of compulsory layers built into Jake’s character sitting in a pod. The film had no issues placing the protagonist in the audience’s shoes, with the only problem of the audience probably figured out whodunit before he did. Foreshadowing is good when done right, but it’s not often clever to do it when mixed in with too many red hierrings which are immediately debunked.

I seem awfully negative about this film, so it might surprise you to know that I enjoy rather enjoyed it.

For the running length of 93mins they’ve cramped a fair bit of content in, and however one dimensional a lot of characters are – they served their purpose in moving the plot along, and I was never actually bored waiting for something to happen.

From a sci-fi prospective, it’s certainly gonna give a few people something to talk about. But I’m more interested in how they should have ended the film on the first place, and without even without spoilers, you should know what I mean when you see it.

I guess I don’t really know what to make of Source Code. Once I start thinking about it, I’m struck by the rather thin and forceful dialogues instead of the tension that I was supposed to be experiencing – but then I knew from the start that the character would just have “another go” at quantum leaping his face into an equally weight, bodysize and handsome body, so pardon me for not being on the edge since no concept of real time urgency was placed on the second attack our hero’s city was supposed to experience.

So my score out of ten would be.

7/10

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