Source Code

The Reel Deal


A Reel Deal Film Review

Film Insight by Tyler Malone

April 2011

Reel Rating: 3 out of 5


Source Code is by no means a bad film, it is just a disappointing one–disappointing for a number of reasons. Firstly, it pales in comparison to director Duncan Jones’ first feature, Moon. As a follow-up, it just isn’t up to the caliber of that film (but it admittedly isn’t anywhere near as bad of a sophomore slump as is possible). Secondly, it has an interesting premise, but it’s as though Jones couldn’t stick to his guns and felt the need to adhere to Hollywood clichés and formulaic sentimentality. Perhaps I should blame the writer, Ben Ripley, more than Duncan Jones–but couldn’t Jones see that this would ultimately be unsatisfying with the ending they’ve provided? They create an idea and a world, and do a pretty good job making it work (even with a few ridiculous aspects), and then suddenly get all Hollywood on us and fuck the whole thing up with dumbed-down, saccharine crud. Thirdly, the comparisons I want to make in discussing the film–let’s say a lovechild of Groundhog Day and Inception, or a Philip K. Dick version of the Jorge Luis Borges story “The Garden of Forking Paths”–make the film sound much better and more interesting than it actually is.  I want to be able to say it is a good mix of those four works of art and up to the caliber of each, but it is most certainly not–nowhere near any of those. It is much more like an episode of Quantum Leap caught in an infinite loop.

That’s it: Source Code is an extended episode of Quantum Leap, except it takes itself a little too seriously, and then ends up undermining its own seriousness with a heavy dose of cheese. And the film has even shakier science than a Quantum Leap episode (which is saying something). I half-expected it to end with that show’s characteristic: “Oh boy!” In a way actually it did–in that the ending seemed so ridiculous to me that it made me say those very words: “Oh Boy!” I won’t go into the specifics about the ending in order to avoid having to put a Spoiler Alert up, but needless to say, it turned a film I’d have given perhaps 4 reels to into a 3 reeler (and I question whether it even deserves that).

I would suggest seeing the film, but walk out at the freeze frame, and forget where it takes you after that.

Source Code is a film directed by Duncan Jones and written by Ben Ripley. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan and Vera Farmiga. An action thriller centered on a soldier who wakes up in the body of an unknown man and discovers he’s part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train.

Written by Tyler Malone

Image Courtesy of Summmit Entertainment

Design by Jillian Mercado

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