Saturday, 11 August 2012

Source Code, dir. Duncan Jones, wr. Ben Ripley, st. Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright

Duncan Jones' follow up to his debut, the low-key Moon in 2009, is another classy slice of sci-fi ingenuity, maxed out for audiences in the mainer stream. Helicopter pilot Colter Stevens wakes up in a nightmarishly claustrophobic military escape pod and finds himself having orders barked at him by scientist Dr. Rutledge (Wright) and Airforce Captain Goodwin (Farmiga). He learns he is in the Source Code, a computer simulation of the last eight minutes of a victim's life aboard a doomed passenger train that exploded earlier. His mission is to use and re-use these eight minutes to hunt the bomber. Crucially, this isn't time travel, he's told, rather he's surfing on synaptic echoes. Jones' Twilight Zonal yarn is a trim, taut, and rather pacy thriller that's light on mystic existentialism and heavy on driving plot. It's Gyllenhaal's show, obviously, and he's a likeable enough hero - caught somewhere between intuitive service to his country and an instinctive desire to pinch himself hard enough to wake up. Farmiga though, has arguably the harder role. Initially unable to tell Colter where he his, or the true nature of his condition (quite shockingly revealed later on) in order to conserve time and force him to remain on point before the terrorist makes good on another threat, she's continually battling emotional compartmentalisation with a nagging feeling she's unethically toying with one life to save many others. Just what constitutes life and death is the key theme running through Source Code, but Jones never pauses to contemplate too long lest it swamp the cracking ride.