Friday, 15 April 2011

Movieguide and Source Code

Jake Gylenhaal and Michelle Monaghan. I'll let you guess
 who's who... But that set is so hokey...
If you have not seen Source Code yet and don't want the end of it ruined for you, then I'd suggest skipping this particular post. Its pretty spoilerific from the start. Sorry, but don't blame me, it's all movieguide's fault.

Still here? Then you have been warned and proceed at your own risk... The film is directed by Moon's Duncan Jones and stars Jake Gylenhaal as Captain Colter Stephens who is trying to stop a terrorist in Chicago, with Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright also appearing. Here is our favourite movie website's review for the aforementioned film. Also, notice the lack of spoiler warnings from them:
SOURCE CODE is an entertaining science fiction thriller (It is entertaining, yes. Well done!), where the viewer is taken into alternate universes (Already you're going into details about the end. You're only in the first fucking sentence for God's sake! And besides, it might not take you into alternate universes. It all rather depends on the individuals particular reading of the end). However, the terrorist villain turns out to be a white Southerner, so the movie is too politically correct. (What? Are you fucking kidding me? That's the only possible reason he could be white? Because its politically correct? I suppose you're right. White guys never do anything bad...)
Then it just goes off describing the story, let's cut back as they turn their attention to assessing the craft involved in the film itself:
As a typical mind bender, this science fiction thriller SOURCE CODE is both entertaining, and stimulating, especially, perhaps for sci-fi aficionados (That sentence had way too many commas...). As lovers of this genre would probably attest, one can go in a couple of directions to have fun with this genre. The choice for viewers here is to: 1) not look too deeply behind the curtain and enjoy the ride; or, 2) try to analyze every scientific premise and become bothered by the inevitable, obvious discrepancies that crop up. (To be honest though, the same choice appears with almost every film. They're never exactly like real life are they. Even documentaries are often 'sexed up' so to speak.)

The cast in SOURCE CODE does a good job. Michelle Monaghan as the innocent Christina is endearing and full of life. Vera Farmiga, who gave a very credible performance against George Clooney in the recent movie UP IN THE AIR, does a good job here as well portraying the mission driven, yet compassionate mission specialist, Goodwin. (See? You can make sensible points sometimes. Why do you have to ruin everything sensible you say by following it up with something stupid? Something stupid is, after all, almost certainly going to follow...)

The direction itself is not quite able to create the tension this type of script potentially could have provided
(And there we are. I told you. For the record, every other critic I've seen review this film has said that Duncan Jones has done an excellent job and has real talent. A view with which I would concur). Also, the set design is hokey, at times resembling the set in a stage play rather than a design that seems realistic. (What? Which sets, precisely, are 'hokey'? There are only 3 major sets in the whole film. And one of them is a very train-looking train. Another just looks like an office, it being an office after all. The room where Gylenhaal is kept was perfectly acceptable, especially considering where he actually was.)

Most welcome, however, is that the filmmakers keep the obscene language down to almost negligible levels
(You see, people don't write in swearing just to hurt you. Its generally because the characters in the movie need to swear to be believable. Here, it is not necessary, so it just doesn't appear. It wasn't a conscious effort I suspect.). In addition, although SOURCE CODE has a humanist worldview (Oh no! See us bloody humanists, eh? We are so craftily evil.), it clearly defines good from evil (Well, there's a bad guy and a good guy. But, then, there is the grey on the ethics of what is being/going to be done to Stephens which has seemingly slipped past you). On the other hand, it may be hard for viewers to avoid suspecting the movie tries to capitalize on a host of other recent productions, such as AVATAR and INCEPTION, not to mention GROUNDHOG DAY. So, writer Ben Ripley does not quite get an A for innovation here. (It takes absolutely fuck all from Avatar. For a start Source Code is good. And comparisons to Inception and Groundhog Day, whilst inevitable, are unfair and very lazy.)

Worse than that, however, the movie has a strong politically correct element
(Not that politically correct. I, for example, didn't notice). [SPOILER ALERT] (Oh! Now you put up a spoiler warning! After you've already spoilt the ending. Well done. Fucktard), The terrorist villains turns out to be an All American white Southerner (Yes. You've said that. And then I got very angry. And am barely containing myself once more.). Also, some subtle political correctness infects the movie in some areas (Like what? Where?). Besides being obnoxious (So obnoxious I didn't notice it...), this also has the unintended effect of reducing SOURCE CODE’s credibility (Yeah. Because terrorists are always Muslims. I thought everyone knew that. Still, its nice to know that racism is still alive and well... Wait, no. It's horribly depressing.), while creating the perception that the story’s implausible moments may have been even greater than its questionable humanist science. (Questionable humanist science? Humanism and science are the future my friend. Not your outdated, unnecessary and just plain wrong Christianity.)

Finally, the movie’s underlying theme is the swapping from universe to universe. In the end, it gives the perception that, through science, humans can defeat death. (... In a way... ish... I suppose... maybe... But I really think you're reading too much into it now. And the characters will eventually die. So they haven't so much 'defeated' death as delay it. Which is something science allows humans to do everyday, through medicine. That's more than religion has ever done.)

All in all, therefore, despite some heroic moments where the protagonist is defending innocent people, MOVIEGUIDE® cannot recommend SOURCE CODE.
(And I wouldn't recommend you to anybody.)
Well there we are. If a bunch of racists can't raise a smile, I don't know what can...

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