Saturday, November 20, 2010

Yes, No, Maybe So: "Source Code"

With Love and Other Drugs about to open we feel absolutely bombarded with Gyllenhaaliciousness. Which is fine by us... Especially when it comes with Hathawayish sparkle.

But such is the nature of healthy physiques careers that before you even have a chance to see Movie A, you're already asked to think about Movie B and sometimes even movie C (given that roughly 89.4% of film writing on the web seems to be devoted to pre-production rather than actual cinema.

In 2011, Jake is ditching Anne for Michelle Monaghan (on a train) and Vera Farmiga (in a control booth) inside Duncan Jones (Moon) sci-fi thriller Source Code. Let's give it the yes, no, maybe so treatment.

Yes. Well, Jones has our attention post Moon (2009) and the cast is full of fine actors.

No. "I want to save her." "You can't it doesn't work that way." "Look for suspicious passengers"... a lot of what we see her suggests a very high concept -- Groundhog Day meets Every Action Movie With a Countdown Clock -- without much by way of its own identity. While it's true that 2:24 minutes of screen time isn't much, they don't show us anything here that seems like it unquestionably will rise above action, sudden romance, or time travel "make the most of the time you have!" clich├ęs.

Maybe So.  It seems a touch perverse to shove highly watchable actors like Jeffrey "Belize" Wright and "Crazy-Eyes" Farmiga into work clothes and onto television monitors to become human exposition machines. Are they wasted here? This is always a danger with action movies that use awards-calibre actors for color. I get that filmmakers bank on strong performers to elevate the overall quality of a movie, trusting them to grant humanity and intrigue where none may exist in the script, but it still can feel like a waste. On the other hand, it can work magic (see: the Bourne franchise) so we can always hope.

And what's with the canted angles of all the monitors within the Source Code? They have the technology to build a time travel machine that continually transports you into another human being's body right before they die but they didn't have the budget for a level?

What's your verdict: yes, no or maybe so?

Jeffrey Wright Jake Gyllenhaal

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