|Image: Optimum Releasing|
When a director hits the ground running with his or her debut feature and sets the bar so high, all eyes turn to said director and we’re left waiting in anticipation for his or her next move, wondering whether the follow up will be as inspired. With Source Code, the second offering from Duncan Jones, the helmer who, a couple of years ago, brought us the stunning and incomparable Moon, we’ve got a film that is sadly less than stellar - although Jones was clearly inspired.
Sticking with the sci-fi genre, Source Code pulls us into the world of soldier Captain Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal), who wakes up in the body of an unknown man and discovers he must go back in time – the last 8 minutes of the man’s life to be exact - and re-live an incident in order to prevent a future attack.
The premise is simple enough and Jones gets right down to events without mulling over the finer details, which works. We’re all familiar with the Quantum Leaps of this world and so, rightfully, Jones credits his audience with some intelligence and instantly propels us into the thick of it. Throughout the movie, we’re continuously plunged into the same 8-minute sequence – well, albeit with a few minor changes each time – and taken on a ride inside and outside of the train as Stevens attempts to complete his assignment. This sits well for a short time, but the “been there, seen that” reality soon kicks in and renders the movie somewhat monotonous, ultimately stopping it from being a smash hit.
It is fair to say, however, that Source Code will probably divide audiences. As mentioned, some will find it slightly repetitive and overly sentimental, but others will no doubt find the order of events exhilarating and challenging and welcome Jones’s take on an aging idea.
It should also be pointed out that there are many light-hearted, funny moments amidst all the train trouble: a comedian provides some good gags and one-liners and Gyllenhaal’s antics are occasionally humorous. The cast also puts in a solid performance. While Jeffrey Wright’s know-all Morpheus/magical African-American friend appearance is worn out, Gyllenhaal is continuously reliable, Vera Farmiga’s turn as mission controller Carol Goodwin is subtle but suited, and Michelle Monaghan’s Christina aptly supports Gyllenhaal’s Stevens.
Source Code isn’t a bad movie, but considering, inevitably, the magnitude of Moon, it doesn’t quite reach the same heights.
A half Moon.