It's no secret that I'm vocal in my hatred of the spawn of celebrities getting into the film industry. It just seems as if they don't earn the celebrity that they have. But every once in a while there's one that comes along that is counter to my labels of "talentless and lucky" and an example of that is director Duncan Jones.
Jones is the son of singer David Bowe and really impressed me with his last movie Moon. It was a one-man show that featured Sam Rockwell putting in the last two weeks of a three year contract mining minerals by himself on the moon. It was a sci-fi headtrip that was tense, sad and tragic. What was amazing though was that it was science fiction for people who don't really like science fiction. That's not an easy task to pull off, especially to do it well.
For his follow-up film he chose to do exactly that again and surpassed it in scope and story. This time, Jake Gyllenhaal is an Air Force pilot who wakes up to find himself in a secret military operation that involves reliving the same 8 minutes before a terrorist attack in Chicago in the body of someone else over and over again in an attempt to try and catch the killer. Can you wrap your brain around that?!
But what's most interesting to me is that he opens it up to be more than just a mindless action movie that, frankly, anyone from Bruce Willis to Jet Li could have pulled off. By the end of the film Jones has shifted the thesis of the movie to one of morality, forgiveness and hope. He also has the timeless theme of government overstepping their limit and stripping away rights for what they consider to be for the greater good. Think of it kind of like Groundhog Day but with an exploding train. Each time Gyllenhaal has to go back to solve a little more of the mystery, the story unfolds into more and more mystery.
What's really cool because what you think would be the exciting parts of the film, such as finding the bomb and finding the terrorist, pale in comparison to the real mystery of how The Source Code works and how he got in it. The only disappointment is that the scenes that do involve locating the bomb and confronting the terrorist are not executed as well as they should be. They lack a pulse and seem almost rushed with cheesy dialogue and luke warm performances. But when you make it to the end of the film and then look back on it, those scenes really aren't the point of the film. It's not an action movie. Source Code is science fiction drama that happens to have some cool explosions and jumps from a speeding train. The originality of the script, written by Ben Ripley, is what drives this movie to the level of awesomeness it gets. The twists and turns that shock and sadden are genuine and unpredictable, which seem to be the trend in Jones' movies. Makes me look forward to his next film with heavy anticipation.
The Source Code (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: A-