Wednesday, April 06, 2011

SOURCE CODE - Mind-bending Thriller

SOURCE CODE (sci-fi thriller)
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright and Michael Arden
Director: Duncan Jones
Screenplay: Ben Ripley
Time: 93 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)

Michelle Monaghan and Jake Gyllenhaal in SOURCE CODE

PREAMBLE: I have never been a fan of time-travel stories or stuff that screws around with the time continuum. Just trying to make sense of them would send me into bouts of intellectual hernia. Still, after 10 minutes into Source Code, I find myself caught in its narrative grip - trying to put pieces of its 'alternate reality' together.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Let's just say that it is somewhat like a cross between Groundhog Day and a Bourne movie. A guy (Jake Gyllenhaal) awakens from a nap on a Chicago-bound commuter train to find a pretty woman named Christina (Michelle Monaghan, right) smiling and talking to him. She call him Sean and it is obvious she's being flirty with him. Trouble is, he is not Sean. He knows himself to be Capt Colter Stevens, a USAF officer serving in Afghanistan.

Minutes later, the train explodes - and Colter finds himself strapped into a seat in what appears to be a space capsule. It's leaking hydraulic fluid. A screen in front of him comes on and a woman named Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) tries to explain to Capt Stevens that he is being placed into a 'source code' that allows him to take over the mind and body of Sean during the final eight minutes of his life. Each time he enters the source code, he is in an alternate reality. His mission is to find out who planted the bomb on the train so that they may prevent another terrorist attack in downtown Chicago itself!

HITS AND MISSES: We don't get to ponder about this alternate reality (or 'time reassignment') nonsense simply because director Duncan Jones (working on a script by Ben Ripley) does not allow us to. The movie's pace is so fast and taut that we feel as if we are on the train and under pressure to find the culprit. During the few moments when we are allowed to catch our breath, we find ourselves distracted by the innocence of Monaghan's Christina - the lady-in-distress whom Stevens tries to rescue.

Each time Stevens returns to the last eight minutes before the train blast, he gets closer to what he is looking for - building up more tension and suspense for the audience. Of course, this sci-fi flick keeps us entangled in 'perplexing complexities' - things that we cannot even try to understand. And as expected, the ending is way too incredulous. But then it is too late: we have been thrilled by its rollercoaster ride and we don't care if it does not make sense. And for this, we thank Gyllenhaal, Monaghan and Farmiga (of Up In The Air, pictured right) for their spot-on performances.

THE LOWDOWN: Source Code grabs you emotionally, if not mentally.


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