I absolutely adored Moon, so I knew I’d get around to watching Duncan Jones’s second movie, Source Code, sooner or later.
This is the one about the dude who wakes up in another dude’s body, eight minutes before his train all explodifies. And when it does inevitably explodify, he does it all over again . . . and again . . . and again . . . until he can find out the identity of the bomber.
It’s a pretty cool concept for a story but, unfortunately, I haven’t fully decided how I feel about the movie itself quite yet. I enjoyed watching it, mostly, but I also can’t help feel like it could’ve been much better than it was . . . and yet, I can’t quite seem to put my finger on just what’s bothering me about it.
1. Well, I do know one thing that doesn’t work for me: the Girl. I am tired of the Girl being a problem for me. Why is it so hard for people to write convincing women?
The good thing about Christina (Michelle Monaghan) is that she, at least, isn’t horrifically obnoxious. The bad thing is that she isn’t much of anything else, either. She feels less like a real person than an Ideal, the pretty girl who smiles a lot and, occasionally, looks quizzically at Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) as he runs around, acting like a crazy person. This might be something of an ActorFail — I feel like a better actress could have done more with the role, although I’ve enjoyed Monaghan in some of her previous work like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang — but its certainly true that there isn’t a whole lot of personality written in, either. And it doesn’t help that Gyllenhaal and Monaghan don’t have much chemistry at all, making their relationship seem even flatter than it must seem on paper.
2. On the other hand, Jake Gyllenhaal is pretty awesome in this movie — which is cool because I feel like I haven’t had interest in any of his projects for years.
Gyllenhaal definitely has some awesome expressions and reactions to the shit that’s going on around him. I especially like how Colter’s first response to something is to beat the shit out of it. Seriously, he is totally the kid who solved all his problems on the playground with his fists. Which is fun to watch, although I’m not sure that instinctual response serves him very well at certain points.
3. Source Code has a fun setup. I got invested pretty quickly, watching for any clues and trying to figure out exactly what was going on. But for all that initial awesomeness, I don’t feel like there’s enough actual payoff at the end. Or something — the structure feels off somehow, in a way I’m having trouble explaining. I don’t really object to anything that happens, exactly, but . . . it’s like something is revealed maybe 2/3 of the way through the movie, right, but it doesn’t feel particularly shocking. If it happened a little earlier in the film, I’m not sure it would’ve needed to be shocking — it would be more like a turn than a twist, if that makes any sense. But how it actually unfolds here . . . I’m not sure. I feel like maybe my jaw was supposed to drop, and instead I just shrugged, like, Oh, okay. So that’s what’s going on. Yeah, that’s basically what I figured.
4. Also, the bomber? Kind of predictable. Like I pointed to the screen at some point in the first five minutes and immediately said, “(S)He did it.” And I was right. Usually, I do this multiple times in a single show or movie, declaring that various characters are guilty because . . . I don’t know, because I have a weird sense of humor, I guess. But I only had to do it once in Source Code. And sure, I wasn’t one hundred percent, would-you-bet-your-life-on-this levels of confident, but then again, I wouldn’t bet my life on very much. I’m inordinately fond of living.
5. Finally, there’s kind of an awesome cameo in Source Code. I refuse to create a Spoiler Section for a Baby Review, but really, it’s pretty much perfect.
Fun, but it’s just . . . missing something.
Honestly, I don’t know. Embrace the new you?