Saturday, July 12, 2014

Source Code

Last month I went out and saw Tom Cruise's latest summer blockbuster, Edge of Tomorrow. Once I realized what was going on with the film and how the events kept on repeating upon each increasingly hilarious Tom Cruise death sequence, I was on board with the film. It also reminded me quite a bit of the 2011 action/sci-fi thriller I will be covering today, Source Code (trailer). Talking to other people, I also heard comparisons to Groundhog Day, and while I am well aware of that movie is all about, I have somehow never seen it yet, but it is buried deep in my Netflix DVD queue, so rest assured one day I will. As it stands, Source Code happened to be in my backlog movie box that is the theme of this blog, and Edge of Tomorrow provided me with some inspiration to throw it in again.

One of the people interviewed on the extras best described Source Code as a hybrid of Groundhog Day and Speed. That description could not have been more spot on, but let us throw in a good dose of Quantum Leap to the mix to complete the analogy. US Army helicopter pilot Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up Quantum Leap-style, taking over the identity of another man in midst of an everyday commuter train ride that is about to get bombed to bits in eight minutes. Once that happens he awakens to reality and finds himself talking to government agents Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) and Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright) who eventually inform him that he will keep going back to the "source code" so he can find out who the bomber was on that train attack that happened for real earlier in the day, because the terrorist made public he plans on another attack very soon.

You get all that? I recalled being a little lost in the plot when I first saw this in the theater because everything is intentionally very vague for the first half hour or so of the film because Goodwin and Rutledge keep dancing around Stevens' questions on what the hell is going on with such blunt, frustrating responses as "there is no time, go back and find the bomber." Eventually things start to open up, and upon this second viewing and listening to some of the commentary and extra feature interviews I was able to piece things together better. As I have referenced before on this blog, I am admittedly a step or two behind most movie fans I talk to at putting these kind of plot points together so odds are you probably will not get as lost as I did on the first viewing.

If you have seen Edge of Tomorrow, you will recognize some similarities on how each repeated day Tom Cruise goes through, they very quickly montage through the opening moments until he branches off differently upon that day. The same thing transpires in Source Code where Stevens goes through the opening motions rapidly and then starts to have a little fun on the side by intentionally mixing up his conversation exchange he starts every source code jump off with Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan) to some amusing results.

My favorite part of Source Code was how every eight minute sequence on the train played out. The first few times is Stevens' figuring out what the hell is going on and trying to get familiar with the other passengers and his surroundings. Then he thinks he starts to get clever, and seeing how his early attempts at trying to find the bomber backfire on him in hilarious fashion, or at points kind of go nowhere had me glued in to how each jump into the source code was going to play out. The last half hour of the film really rises to the occasion as everything starts to come together, and the aftermath starts to unfold when Stevens' tries to go into business for himself with one final jump into the source code. Immediately after finishing the film, I watched the last half hour again with the DVD commentary from director Duncan Jones, writer Ben Ripley and Jake Gyllenhaal, and that really added to what I got out of it because the three were able to expand on some of the little things that were slipping by me and helped piece together an understanding of the true nature of the ending for me.

I have the DVD release of Source Code, and I believe the BluRay has a few more extras, but the DVD has a handful of its own aside from the aforementioned commentary track. There is about a half hour worth of interviews with the cast and crew called Cast Insights, about what they got from their experience on the film and it was quite entertaining to hear them try and describe the plot and make sense of all the sci-fi intricacies of the movie. Next up is a throwaway 10 minute montage of animated shorts called Focal Points which play out in a PSA style of trying to explain how Source Code's version of warping into their source code world plays out. The DVD features are rounded off with a trivia track.

If you are all about these mystery thrillers and love piecing things together as they play out than Source Code is definitely the movie for you. It is the perfect movie to watch twice in a row to pick up on all the little nuances throughout. Even if I have not sold you on this film so far, go out of your way to Netflix or Redbox it because it is something refreshingly different than the average film out there.

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs

21 Jump Street
Bounty Hunters
Captain America: The First Avenger
Field of Dreams
The Fighter
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
Veronica Mars

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