Science fiction and fantasy
directed by Duncan Jones
Colter's experience of reliving the same time over and over is explained with garbled references to quantum entanglement, echoes of memories, and multiple versions of reality. Frankly this annoyed me. It leaves the story full of holes: what happened to Sean the teacher's memories, how can Colter invade his life and live it for him, how can a computer programme open a portal to other versions of reality, and how can relics of memories offer up insights into things someone didn't do or see the first time around? It's a mess of plot holes. I feel cheated of the eerie music and spooky lights that normally appear at this point in films to tell us it's pure magic at work. It's like the way Weird Science expects people to believe a computer can birth a perfect woman, only with less humour and more explosions.
Talking of perfect women, sitting opposite Sean/Colter on the train is Christina (Michelle Monaghan), the obvious love interest. At first Colter thinks she's a simulation, as is everyone else, and he treats them accordingly. But gradually he learns the value of making every minute count, and the story takes a typically gooey turn. Christina's too nice, and the characters on the train are rather bland and similar to each other. Jake Gyllenhaal props up the movie with his ability to switch from lost puppy to gun-toting macho soldier in the blink of an eye, keeping the film moving.
Source Code is quite fast-paced, but for the most part it takes itself too seriously. We do feel for Colter, and we end up having sympathy for Colleen when she's faced with a choice between her job and her conscience. But the limping director of the Source Code programme, Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright), looks more stereotypical with every line he utters, and the rest of the faintly irritable passengers on the delayed train are scarcely more interesting. The ending is fairly predictable, as cute and feelgood as you'd expect.
Colter Stevens is a strong leading character, and Jake Gyllenhaal plays him convincingly. However between dull supporting characters, flat and uninspiring dialogue, and a heap of pseudo-scientific claptrap that demonstrates a sneering contempt for the audience's intelligence, Stevens has more than Chicago to rescue in this movie. With any luck there won't be a sequel.
13th April 2011
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