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May 16, 2011 | by  | in Film | [ssba]

Source Code

Here is more proof to suggest maybe I should stop judging upcoming films solely on their trailers, because Duncan Jones’s concept thriller Source Code is a little bit more than the weak sci-fi Groundhog Day or poor man’s Déjà Vu I initially labeled it as. You can probably understand my early disdain when you realize exactly how much I loved Moon—Jones’ ambient, gripping debut, which favoured brooding mood over plot—because this film felt like it might achieve the total opposite.

But while Source Code does have different ambitions altogether, Jones thankfully doesn’t let a new direction drown out directorial voice. There is distinct tonal and thematic residue from his debut on Source Code, even against a plot which demands a different beast entirely to the languid ’70s pacing of Moon. Jones owes more to Hitchcock than Tarkovsky or Kubrick here, but it’s an atmospheric shift with which he finds a rather dynamic range.

But aside from being so sci-fi, Source Code still shares a fair deal with its precursor, especially thematically. Both films are of men-on-a-mission, but objectives with a very human cost. Source Code replaces the cold corporate body of ‘Lunar Industries’ with US military politics and grapples with similar ideas of everyman exploitation, isolation and dehumanization—behind each thrill is a subtle philosophical question mark.

Yet there is an emotional undercurrent here too, which Jones refuses to neglect, and these scenes occasionally are guilty of lending themselves to clunky dialogue and unneeded cliché. It’ll still connect but in a way that never manages to feel as earned as it could.

However, Jones is clearly at home in the vein of propulsive action here; meshing brains, thrills and unexpected humour. I’m still convinced there aren’t many others of Jake Gyllenhaal’s thespian generation to rival him in dramatic and comedic aptitude—he’s been through a bunch of roles and it’s rare he ever fails to convince or be likable. It’s through him and Jones’ intelligent craft that Source Code manages to make meat out of a gimmick and emerge as entertaining as it is.


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