Source Code DVD Review

Duncan Jones is the man who sold his name.
And you have to admire him for casting his own shadow on pop culture, far from any accusations of nepotism rooted in his father’s indelible legacy.
That I’m not helping with at all.
Following on from his critically acclaimed debut Moon, Jones has taken a slight departure from the lo-fi roots of that smart sci-fi feature and turned his hand to a more mainstream genre with appropriate hollywood budget to boot.
At least that’s what the trailer for Source Code trailer had lulled me into believing.
The film opens with a man waking up on a train. According to his ID and the cute female companion sitting opposite him, this is Sean Fentress.
However, appearances can be deceptive.
This may be Sean’s body, but the fellow inhabiting him is Colter Stevens; Captain and decorated helicopter pilot in the US army from his service in Afghanistan, and disoriented by the alien situation he’s woken up to.
Confused by his new reality, Stevens searches his carriage and mind for answers to the questions he’s confronted by.
But only for eight minutes, as that’s when an explosion rips through his train killing everyone on board.
Stevens awakes to find himself locked away in a military facility, where his contact with the outside world is limited to computer screens. Eventually, he’s briefed about Source Code; an experimental army programme that allows Stevens to assume another person’s identity for the last eight minutes of their life.
Stevens’ mission is to re-enter’s Fentress’s last moments and unravel the truth behind the train explosion, while also battling the memories of his own shattered mind.
With its well known cast and seemingly generic action sequences, I was a little apprehensive about how Source Code would play out.
But was pleasantly surprised.
There are elements of the script that will no doubt appeal to the action genre’s staple audience of young, adrenaline addicted men. But Source Code is cleverer than that and I should have known better.
Jones’ marries the conventional with subtle twists and revelations, slowly revealing the film’s true story in a way that’ll engage a much wider audience right to the end.
The leading acts all perform creditably, with Jake Gyllenhaal’s subtle portrayal of Captain Colter Stevens providing Source Code’s emotional core and narrative arc for the viewer to follow.
The supporting cast all convince with their roles, without leaving much of an impression, and there’s something almost comforting in this simple clarity of Source Code.
It proves that all you really need for an engaging film is a good script, strong leading performer and competent execution of basic cinematic virtues.
Which sounds relatively easy, but modern cinema seems to have fallen into that trap of crowbarring every hedonistic thought they can possibly conceive into their story.
As though this is the only way to grab an audience’s attention.
The results of which are often diabolical, so it’s refreshing to find a director who believes that less is more. That the craft of telling a good story on the big screen doesn’t lie in throwing as many ideas as you can at an audience, rather picking one or two of these and honing them into an enjoyable film.

Hard as he may try to disguise it, I’d suggest Jones is something of a pop culture oddity too.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

August 2011