Sunday, April 3, 2011

Jason watches SOURCE CODE

I'll say it, Duncan Jones may just be the smartest man working in sci-fi films today. MOON blew me away a couple of years ago, and he has definitely avoided the sophomore curse.

I've ranted before about how most time travel movies are not really about time travel because you can't draw a self-contained Feynman diagram with time-like loops in it. True time travel movies include 12 MONKEYS and TIMECRIMES (go ahead, diagram them). Most time travel movies are really about travel to an alternate world that happens to have the same timeline with our world up until some divergence point. BACK TO THE FUTURE is a prime example, as are the TERMINATOR movies. Well, SOURCE CODE is explicitly a movie about travelling to alternate worlds that share a timeline with ours, or as one character calls it, not time travel but "time reassignment." It's like Duncan Jones (and writer Ben Ripley) get this distinction that bothers me in so many "time travel" movie and explicitly made a great "alternate worlds with the same past timelines" movie.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Colter Stevens, a pilot fighting in Afghanistan who wakes up a train in Chicago. 8 minutes later, while he's still trying to figure out where he is, the train explodes. And then he wakes up in a pod, where military officers talk to him, and explain the source code. It's a device (based on quantum mechanics and parabolic algebra) that allows him to occupy someone else's body in the last 8 minutes of his life. He can't change what happened in the real timeline, but he can figure out who planted the bomb so they can catch him before he sets off his much bigger dirty bomb. Of course, that doesn't explain how Stevens got there...

Okay, so it's extremely high concept, but the concept is well executed (just don't think too hard about the physics or philosophy behind it) and anchored by an excellent performance by Jake Gyllenhaal. In fact, despite opening up the action to numerous characters, at it's best moments SOURCE CODE is as much the one man Jake Gyllenhaal show as MOON was the Sam Rockwell show. And like MOON, we play around with issues of personal identity and the powers that be sabotaging our view of reality. Apparently these are things Duncan Jones likes exploring. And in his hands, I say continue to explore away.

Running Time: 93 minutes
My Total Minutes: 231,126

1 comment:

Dadmaniac said...

Jason, just saw this at Terri and Tom's. I agree...excellent. I was confounded by the physics, but I am anyway. Well played Jake, well played.