|Original artwork by Markgraf|
The last film I reviewed, Sucker Punch, had a magnificent trailer. It really stoked me. I was all, “Hey, this trailer is awesome! I must avail my face of the cinematographical delight it advertises!” And then I saw it and it was crap.
But I went to see it anyway, because my passion for Jake Gyllenhaal’s beautiful face is unrivalled and disturbing. And also because Duncan Jones’s breakout film, Moon, was widely touted as a dreadfully disturbing psychological affair, and I still rue the fact that I missed it at the cinema – so maybe it would have my proverbial cookies after all?
Short answer: yes.
Long intelligible answer: It certainly does. It turns out that the film’s content is the complete opposite of what the trailer would have me believe. The trailer bigs up the romantic relationship and downplays the unsettling premise. The film, on the other hand, is all about the premise, which rules the shop from start to finish, throwing up questions of morality and ethics in science, what happens to the universe when we make decisions, and the nature of a good death. The romance is a barely-there breath of something sweet and touching that’s symptomatic of the premise rather than an event all in itself.
The premise, without spoiling anything, is that there is some military science (SCIENCE! more like) that allows a person to take possession of a dead person’s final memories, ten minutes before their death. This involves, of course, a poor bastard (in this case, a harassed-looking, sweaty Jake Gyllenhaal) being held prisoner in a Science Tank and forced back into some dead guy’s brain so that he can solve terrorism forever. In this case, Jake Gyllenhaal scuba dives through time and space into ten minutes prior to a big-ass explosion that detonates an entire train on the way to Chicago.
So the reason, then, that there’s this romantic subplot anything, is less about OH ROMANCE, SAVE THE LADY, THE MERE PRESENCE OF A WOMANLASS MAKES MAN LOSE ALL SEMBLENCE OF RATIONALITY AND FLING ASIDE ALL PLANS AND SCHEMES FOR HER, FOR SHE IS RUBBISH GIRL! WHO CANNOT SAVE HERSELF! AND HE IS ERECTILE-TISSUE-BRAIN MAN! WHO THINKS OF NOTHING BUT WHETHER OR NOT HE CAN BESHAGGERATE A THING! and more about giving this woman – and her fellow passengers – a chance to have a good death.
Another thing: although this film deals heavily with military science – a combination of fields that stereotypically leaves women out wholesale – one of the lynchpin characters is a woman, and she’s not only steely and full of agency and poise, but she carries a bucketload of morality and cunning, too. I loved her. I was very glad she was in it to balance out the do-stuff-and-explode machismo of Jake Gyllenhaal Fighting Science.
Overall, yeah! Source Code is surprising: it’s a fun and entertaining ride without being brainless. Also, I did mention the thing with Jake Gyllenhaal and he’s in a suit and he’s doing things and oh god help I’m on fire.
YOU SHOULD SEE THIS FILM BECAUSE:
- It’s not revolve-around-romance stupid as the trailer makes it out to be
- It does fun and interesting – if not necessarily innovative – things with choice-making and time
- Morals and ethics and science, oh my
- Jake Gyllenhaal, suit, things, oh god his gorgeous face etc.
- Some bits are, if you think about them, really fucking creepy
YOU SHOULD NOT SEE THIS FILM BECAUSE:
- Well, the science is fucking hilarious. Wait, that’s a reason to see it.
Markgraf draws pictures, plays Pokemon, watches films, writes for BadRep, caresses tanks, talks to himself in public and collects interesting bits of cardboard. He wishes he had a life.