Regular readers will know that I have a bit of a thing for Duncan Jones' Moon. I won't go over all that again here, but suffice to say it's my favourite film from the last few years (in summary: it's VERY GOOD, and it has a Muji clipboard in it). So it was with some excitement that Dr B and I went to see Jones' sophomore effort, Source Code, on Friday. Spoilerage ahead.
First things first: anyone expecting Jones to deliver another Moon will be disappointed. I kept my expectations at a realistic level – it's unfair to expect a masterpiece every single time, especially from someone so early in their career – and I didn't come away disappointed. Source Code is a damn good sci-fi action thriller that throws a lot of ideas at you, and most of them stick.
First of all, it's lean, very lean. With so much going on, it manages to avoid any plotbloat. With high concept science fiction, this is a lot harder than you'd imagine … just ask the makers of The Adjustment Bureau. The central conceit is convincing enough without needing to be over-explained. Like Inception and Limitless, it enough to just suggest the military development of the central technology, without spending half an hour showing someone inventing it. It feels really short, but in a good way.
It shares lots of themes with Moon, and explores them in different ways. The whole idea of an expendable character with multiple lives in which to complete a given task is central to both films, and is clearly informed by Jones being a bit of a gamergeek. As gaming and living become ever more fused, this current cycle of science fiction films are going to become ever more prescient.
Jake Gyllenhaal manages the tough central role really well and once again proves he's got oodles of star charisma. He's called upon to constantly juggle denial, anger, acceptance, etc. as he comes to terms with his own death – there are obvious comparisons to be made with Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. At times it's like watching an actor's workshop, showing how to approach the same scene in different ways, but he keeps it entertaining. His golden shininess was a little distracting though – presumably this was filmed around the same time as the forgettable Prince of Persia.
Actually, there was one other thing that distracted me a little, and it once again demonstrates the massive shadow of Christopher Nolan over these sorts of films. The film contains lots of rather lovely aerial shots of Chicago … and all I could think of was Batman. For me, Chicago and Gotham City are now synonymous.
Anyway, a great film. Well worth a visit to flicks, and one that'll certainly reward repeat viewings. Oh, and the casting of Jake's dad: nice.