Saturday, April 9, 2011

Source Code

There's something irresistibly compelling about the idea of second chances. Part of it may be the utter impossibility of them in the real world. We can get the opportunity to make amends, or to try again, but we cannot ever go back and start afresh. Except, of course, in the zillions of books and movies, including Source Code, that explore time travel with this very goal in mind.

I am, as you might expect, an absolute sucker for them.

Thus, I expected to find Source Code at least interesting and probably enjoyable, and indeed it was. I'm glad I saw it, I liked it, and I recommend it to those in the mood for an interesting SF story.

I wasn't sure, however, whether it would be intelligent, internally consistent, well-acted, or, in general, well-crafted. On that front, I have to report mixed results.

The acting was strong. Jake Gyllenhaal delivered the leading man goods in a scruffy but adorable style that worked well with what the story required of his character. Michelle Monaghan was adequately appealing in a role that gave her little room to shine. The best performance of the film came from Vera Farmiga, who did almost all of her work while sitting in a chair and playing a character one of whose jobs was not to show any sign of significant emotion. After Up in the Air and this, her name alone will now tempt me to try a movie.

The visual composition of the film was good enough, which sufficed given that most of it occurred in a relatively small number of sets.

The movie falls down, however, on the intelligent and internally consistent fronts. I'm completely willing to suspend my disbelief for its version of physics, but the twist that led to the "surprise" ending (you had to have been asleep not to have seen it coming from the first ten minutes) just didn't mesh well with what they'd presented before. Plus, we have a lingering problem that the movie hopes you never notice: what about the guy whose body Gyllenhaal took over? That completely innocent dude is dead, a casualty of this particular conflict, and the filmmakers just hope you don't notice.

Despite those weaknesses, however, I still enjoyed it. It's not in the class of The King's Speech, and yes, once again, I had to turn off part of my brain to enjoy it, but I'm willing to do that for many movies. The hero saves the day, he and the romantic lead get a chance to build a new life, and we have a good time watching it all happen.

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