SPOILER SPOILERS SPOILER SPOILERS SPOILERS… seems to be a running theme this weekend doesn’t it?
My previous film critique corner of Source Code was whether or not it would be a sci-fi thriller or an action movie. The difference between heavy ideas or heavy action, neither of which happened, Source Code is a film exclusively about ideas and the thrills are built around these ideas. What ideas you say? All of them. I think this film is crammed with so many explorations of so many ideas that it’s hard to list them. The afterlife, relationships, love, triumph and tragedy, what makes us human, the line of reality, the line of non-reality, the rules of the world, the ethics of a simulated afterlife, death, the world beyond our own.
I haven’t even scratched the surface.
Duncan Jones here makes a triumphant effort in saying oh so much and delivering oh so much. The script is sharp with Ben Ripley giving these ideas like its been lovingly drip-fed through the action set-pieces. Jake Gyllenhaal takes storm as Captain Colter Stevens, a dead soldier just trying to say goodbye to his Dad. Michelle Monaghan gives a good effort too in the role of Christian, the fiancée of the guy whom Colter becomes. “Becomes” is a good word here, as Source Code revolves around a damn lot of ideas and questions. One good question it asks is Who would you become? If you had the source code, you could become anyone… who then?
I feel that the film excels in pretty much every single aspect. The action delivers, Jones juggles the ideas with the set-pieces beautifully, the cinematography is hypnotizing on the level Limitless recently was. I love, love, love the film and cannot wait to see it again. However (my favourite word there) there’s some sort of power deep within me compelling me to ask myself a question that will likely tear this film apart. Is it as good as Moon? No. It isn’t. Moon was quiet, alone and secluded – it talked to itself – Source Code talks to everyone who wants to listen.
It’s very Hitchcockian in its vibe, odd given the same comparisons with Limitless, whereas Moon was very, very Kubrick. More specifically Kubrick’s Space Odyssey which just so happens to be the greatest film ever made. I love Hitchcock’s work too, but I feel Kubrick touches me beyond the realm of emotion and deep into my very cognitive thinking. The film changed my life, in a few ways I can’t even describe, whereas Hitchcock has fed into my emotion and perspective on the world. It’s still bloody good, it is Hitchcock, but it doesn’t go as far as Kubrick or Team Ico did with my little headbox. It’s a matter of timing really, I saw most of Hitchcock’s work after seeing nearly all of Kubrick’s (I only have Lolita left).
Source Code goes deep into my thinking. I don’t like talking about philosophy given I feel I bad at it, I don’t like talking about my beliefs because those are things I like to keep to myself. For the record, I’m neither Atheist nor religious nor agnostic nor theist. I’m something and I like to think that thinking about the afterlife, love, life and the hell of it all shouldn’t just be all decided at my age. I’ve had films and books argue different things and they’ve all fed into my headbox. Source Code is going in my headbox too, but I have one complaint as to where it’s going.
There’s one question it asks at the very end, beautifully in fact, when Colter is able to phone is father and talk about his death. They never said goodbye, but here in a three minute scene we see a dead man reconciling with his father. Or… another version of his father. Or is the real version of his father the actual “other version”? It’s Philip K. Dick in tone too, the guy being my favourite author of all time, which makes it all the more wonderful when this scene takes place. However, what I want to talk about is just after this gorgeous moment… that ending.
The ending is… it’s not confusing. My mum got confuzzled and I had to explain the entire film in a few sentences, which she understood but she prefers Transformers really. When Colter essentially ‘dies’ he’s still in the source code… is this the afterlife? The remarks at the very end say it’s another world they created, which is a strong idea to explore, but thematically this whole scene doesn’t fit in. The nature of the afterlife isn’t properly boiled down, do we just go live happily ever after? Is that what the film’s telling us? That we are happy when we go?
I don’t know what the film is saying and I’d really like to know exactly what it wants me to think about. I don’t like it when it’s blatantly HEY LOOK AT ME IT’S THE AFTERLIFE THINK ABOUT ME, but when there’s a dead guy living as a dead guy in another parallel universe… I’d like to know whether he’s actually dead or whether you want me to think about the nature of reality. Is this just another layer of reality beyond our concious thinking? Is it all one big neuro-stimulated dreamscape in which a dead guy creates a world for himself in that last second of life? Is it a parallel world he’s fallen into forever?
I love Source Code, I’ll be watching again, it’s the best film I’ve seen this year and I’m still looking forward to what Duncan Jones does next. What I want to know, however, is whether or not I’m a complete idiot. Nobody ever gets to Heaven, or is it nobody ever gets to reality. Are they the same? It fell off at the end for me and I lost grasp of what to think about, because that’s what great works of art and entertainment do, they make you think. I get that. I want to know what you want me to think about; give me a clue and a few hours and I’ll believe in reincarnation.