Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Duncan Jones: 8 Minutes Infinite (Source Code)

The time-travel sub-genre of science fiction is a boundless thing, its possibilities for reverberation are infinite. Films that bend time and get inside of their hero's mind can be the absolute best form of cinematic expression  (Christopher Nolan for example).

Duncan Jones showed effulgent promise with his feature debut, the resourceful Kubrickian sci-fi mindmelt Moon, which trailers for his sophomore film, Source Code, promised to exceed. Source Code, however, arrives stillborn, an intriguing premise which feels off kilter, not fully formed.

Jake Gyllenhaal is our military hero, who finds himself trapped within the source code, a new government experiment sending soldiers back in time to discover the cause of terrorist attacks. The one glitch is that they only have eight minutes, and if unable to get to the bottom of the incident, they must return incessantly. And so our hero finds himself on a Chicago train in another man's body, sitting with a gorgeous brunette (Michelle Monahan) and surrounded by disparate characters played to comical effect. Every time he finds himself back at base, sequestered in a capsule, communicating via sattelite with superiors played by Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright.

The idea is limitless in its possibilities, harking back to Harold Ramis' masterful comedy Groundhog Day, yet Jones never quite makes us believe in the jumble, care about the characters or their fates. The darkly comedic tone is odd and off, and though there are several blindingly superb shots, this sophomore effort is never more than basically good.

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