Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Source Code - Groundhog Day Redux?

Two nights ago I watched Source Code, and it was so good I think I might watch it again tomorrow night.  And again, three days after that.  And again, three days after that.  And again, -

Well, perhaps that would be going too far, but as homages to my favourite Bill Murray film of the 1980s go, this is a winner. At least until David Bowie's son remakes Caddyshack, with people fleeing a chocolate bar floating in a swimming pool symbolising the military industrial complex's 21st century bankruptcy, or whatevs, right? 1

There's a few callbacks to the pop culture of my childhood, or at least to Quantum Leap. Scott Bakula gets a cameo at a most surprising point, as well as Jake Gyllenhaal referencing the look in the mirror shot from every Quantum Leap episode. But there's not so much that it becomes distracting.

Plotwise: well, it's Jake on a train, mysteriously reliving the same eight minutes until he can solve a terrorist plot. Thus a little of the suspense is off, because you know when he identifies what he thinks is the perpetrator twenty minutes in, he must be mistaken because we're not leaving the cinema for another hour, but this is a film where the ride is the thing. The destination, ultimately, isn't so important. Thus when the last five minutes are a little too pat and don't add anything, it's not as disappointing as if you'd got all the way to the end and the big reveal was that Jake was actually stuck in a VHS tape in the Blockbuster store in the Truman Show.

One loose end was the gradually deterioating state of Jake's capsule; I thought that more could have been made of its collapse, rather like the nosebleeds and breakdowns in Primer, but that might have meant we spent half the film watching Jake shake, which though I'm sure it would keep some people happy, wouldn't move the plot on so much. It's also strange that a film with an exploding train every eight-or-so-minutes (occasionally you feel Jones might be playing a bit fast-and-loose with how much time there is in every eight minute section) that it has a cerebral feel, but that may be because I watched Thor the day before in THREE DIMENSIONS and thus anything that's designed without a million dollars of explosions up on the screen and in your face feels a little subdued. It's good to see Jake playing an action hero, although this is one who gets into embarassing situations in railway station restrooms and keeps confusing bystanders for terrorists, which may be an extended metaphor for, er, something. Anyone?

Anyway, a great little film. Shame they couldn't get Punxsutawney Phil on the train, but then you can't have everything, eh?

1Apparently the biggest single cost in Caddyshack wasn't the bill for Rodney Dangerfield's enormous face, or Bill Murray, but the special effects. That they spent on a beaver, or a woodchuck, or some sort of rodent. Good heavens. What wereIndustrial Light & Magic up to?


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