Saturday 17 September 2011

Film: Source Code (2011)

I have been looking forward to watching Source Code ever since I saw director Duncan Jones' highly impressive debut film Moon. I was not disappointed.

US Army helicopter pilot Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal), on active service in Afghanistan, abruptly finds himself travelling on a train to Chicago, sitting opposite an attractive young woman who clearly knows him. To add to his confusion, when he sees himself in a mirror the face which looks back at him is not his, and he discovers that he is known as Sean Fentress. He is still trying to understand what is happening when a bomb explodes on board the train, killing him and everyone else on board.

He wakes up again in a strange cockpit-like capsule, in CCTV communication with Air Force Captain Goodwin (Vera Farmiga). She explains to him that he has been in the "Source Code", an experimental environment which enables him to experience the lives of people in an alternate reality for eight minutes after their deaths. The people in the train are already dead - he can't save them but he has been sent to identify the bomber since it is believed that a second and much larger "dirty" bomb is due to be detonated in Chicago by the same man. The film follows Stevens' efforts to find the bomber as he is repeatedly sent back to experience the same eight minutes before the explosion. Along the way, he learns more about his own circumstances and becomes convinced that the alternate world in the Source Code is not what it seems.

Like Moon this has an intelligent and intriguing script (by Ben Ripley), is crisply directed by Jones and very well acted, by Gyllenhall and the excellent Farmiga (who impresses me more every time I see her). By modern standards it is relatively low-key with no hype and few special effects; the concentration is on the characters and the story. There is no padding and its 93 minute running time is short, but perfectly judged. It has immediately jumped onto my shortlist of favourite SF films, and I eagerly await Jones' next film.
A few domestic notices:

When I started this blog I expected to focus on reviewing novels but films have been increasingly featuring (with the occasional TV programme thrown in), so I decided to create an index to these reviews. You can find it in the left-hand column immediately below the book review list. Just click on any title that interests you and you'll be taken straight to it.

I have been pondering offering my novels in Kindle versions. I don't have an e-reader myself, simply because I have about a hundred unread paperbacks stacked on my floor and hundreds more on my shelves that I want to read again, which are likely to keep me going until Kindle has become obsolete. However, I gather that it is proving a successful medium for self-publishers like me, so I might try offering Scales on it, just to test the water. If that works it might motivate me to finish my third novel, which has been sitting untouched for a couple of years now.

Some gratifying reviews lately on for my alternative World War 2 novel, The Foresight War. Nice to see that it's still gathering fans and sales more than seven years after publication. Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to post your thoughts about it.


Chimeradave said...

that's neat about "Foresight War," it's a great book.

Fred said...

Thanks for the review of _Source Code_. I hadn't heard of it, but I had heard of _Moon_, which got good reviews. _Moon_ is in my queue, and I guess I'll add _Source Code_.

So far I haven't gotten an e-book reader, for the same reason that you mentioned. I have too many unread books and too many books I want to reread gathering dust to add another distraction.

Dr Evil said...

This film is on my list to watch too. Time travel and all the potential for unitended consequences and the like is quite fscinating!