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May 13, 2024

Source Code: Movie Review

By Bernie and Sand Pilarski

Bernie said:

If you are reading this, then you already know what happened on Friday. The Oscar's Best Picture selection Skyline has broken the all-time record by having raked in over three billion dollars at the box office. Plans have already been put into motion for Skyline 2, 3, 4 ,5, 6 and 7. I must find a way to stop this madness, I must find a way to stop the bomb. Wait! I'm gonna blow up!

If you are reading this, then you already know what happened on Friday. Warner Bros. has announced that Charlie Sheen will star in the much anticipated musical comedy Singin' in Iran. Sheen will play Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I must find a way to stop the bum. Wait! I'm gonna blow up!

If you are reading THIS, then you already know what happened Friday. Source Code, a new sci-fi movie with largely positive reviews was trounced at the box office by Hop, a movie most critics claim to be poorly written story about the Easter Bunny's teenage son who goes to find his fortunes as a drummer in a rock 'n' roll band. I must find a way to stop the bun. Wait! I'm gonna blow up!

Actually, I don't know if Hop is any good or not. We weren't impressed with the previews, so Sand and I decided to spend our limited movie money on Source Code, directed by relative newcomer Duncan Jones and starring Jake Gyllenhaal. The story revolves around a soldier who, through experimental scientific wizardry, is sent back in time to relive the final eight minutes of a Chicago commuter train's trip just before it is blown apart by a bomb. In that eight minutes, he must try to find the identity of the bomber. If he can learn the bomber's identity in time, he can prevent the bomber's next act, detonation of a "dirty bomb" that could kill thousands. The problem is that he is disoriented and confused about how and why he got there. Time runs out, the train blows up, and now the soldier finds himself strapped into the seat of what appears to be a cockpit of some kind. On a video screen in the cockpit, another soldier is questioning him about his mission and coaching him for his next attempt. Then he is abruptly sent back to relive the final eight minutes before the explosion. Each time the soldier is sent back, he gets closer to finding out who the bomber is, he gets a little more clear headed about himself and his mission, he gets a little more involved in the lives of the people on the train, and he gets blown up.

This could be pretty standard time travel sci-fi fare, except that writer Ben Ripley has a few surprises for the audience, and turns this into a well paced whodunit where there are lives hanging in the balance, time is of the essence, and not everything is as it seems. "Strong performance" is not a phrase I would associate with Jake Gyllenhaal. He always seems to be bemused at being in front of a camera, but that seems to work for him in this case. His character is accessible and likeable, and it seems natural to root for him.

Like last month's The Adjustment Bureau, this movie is a solid, well crafted and entertaining story, something that might be a little disturbing for and beyond the grasp of the youngest members of the family, but certainly something you could take your twelve year old to. It is a movie that goes well with a Saturday afternoon and a bucket of popcorn.

Sand said:

There's a certain feeling when you go to see the first showing of a movie in your local theater, knowing that afterwards, you are going to write a review about it. We pull into the parking lot, walk to the theater, get tickets, and no one around us knows that we are movie reviewers, opinionators of the first water, pouring out praise or condemnation with no bribes necessary.

In many ways, the thought of writing a review is freeing -- you don't have to try to find excuses to cover up thinking that Jake Gyllenhaal is kind of cute in a goofy sort of way or that you just have had a thing for time travel stories ever since you were old enough to read.

Of course, monetary recompense would go a long way towards more reviews of movies, of that there is no doubt. We could go see every opening movie and write reviews on all of them ... but then we'd have to sit through the many stinko ones, so maybe getting paid to see movies wouldn't be worth it after all.

My motivation in going to see Source Code was simple: I wanted to get out of the house and ignore the laundry and the garden weeding that needed to be done. Source Code seemed tailor-made for that purpose. (And Jane Eyre STILL is not in our theaters, dangit!)

I enjoyed this movie from beginning to end. I was drawn into the plot and wanted to figure out who the bad guy was as much as the main character did. The movie played out like a Golden Age science fiction story, with Science, Perception, and Action. The love interest was nice color, balancing the main action's need to beat the clock each time Captain Stevens is rocketed back into the final moments of the doomed trains' existence. (Yes, there is more than one train in this story, though we never see the occupants of the other train.)

Like I said, I enjoyed it, and would gladly see it again. But as a time-travel story junkie from childhood, there was one tiny sentence I wanted to hear at the end that would justify, complete, and make whole the entire story. If I told you what that was, it would be a total spoiler, however, so I can't.

I can imagine the movie execs saying, "Well, there are going to be time-travel junkies out there who are not going to be completely satisfied, so what do you say, do we make this a tidy package, or do we just leave the audience -- and those time-travel junkie reviewers -- hang out in the breeze?"

Hanging out in the breeze isn't all that bad, with questions left unasked and unanswered, and my one sentence left unsaid. In my mind, as I recall the story, I'll add my one sentence, and remember this movie very fondly, smiling at its end.

Article © Bernie and Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
Published on 2011-04-04
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