Monday, 16 January 2012

Source Code

Science-Fiction has always had a steady stream of stories that explore time lines and parallel dimensions - it's one of the genre's staples. Every now and again there is crossover into mainstream and films such as this emerge - Duncan Jones' (Moon)  second feature film. I'm looking forward to his third!

I wonder if the fact that stories like this being so successful in mainstream cinema (other recent titles include  Inception, In Time, Adjustment Bureau) reveals that many people are dissatisfied with their own time line or dimension and so indulge in a little fantasising about possibly alternatives? Does it tap into the 'pie in the sky when you die' vibe?

In this film we have someone in Colter Stephens (Jake Gyllenhaal) who is willing to relive the same 8 minute segment of time in order to 'save the world'. The film is evenly paced and not repetitive in an annoying way. It also has some twists and turns along the way and delivers an ending that is hard to predict - even if you understand the premise behind 'source code' first time around! The science behind the story is hard to believe but this film is science-fiction and not trying to communicate historical fact.

The story raises questions about the rights of governments to 'use' incapacitated battlefield casualties for clandestine and subversive projects - even if a greater good comes from them. How alive was Stephens? He was clearly participating against his will - the appeal to nationalism and duty made me feel extremely uncomfortable. How many similar 'projects' are being researched in government and military labs for our security and well-being?

The film also shows something of the power of love. Stephens is clearly attracted to his commuting companion Christina (Michelle Monaghan) - and who wouldn't be - and as the story unfolds, the way in which he is better able to express his feelings emerge in a kind of apocalyptic Groundhog Day scenario. Then there is the character of Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) who is clearly torn between a sense of duty and the desire to respect what is left of Colter Stephens. What would you have done at the end of the film if you'd been in her situation?

Is this simply a film about a burnt-out combat helicopter pilot who gets one last chance at redemption or does it offer more? Does it offer us an opportunity to reflect on the trajectory our life is on and evaluate it in some way? Does it show us what love and self-sacrifice can achieve? Does it show us the depths of depravity to which a 'fallen' creation is capable of sinking? Or does the film simply hold out the hope of salvation in a different reality? It all sounds a bit gospel-like to me?

I'm going to give it 7.5/10 - a good film. Enjoy and reflect!

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