REVIEW: Source Code

9 07 2011

Part “Inception” and part “Groundhog Day,” Duncan Jones’ sophomore directing effort “Source Code” is a fully engrossing thriller that blends the best aspects of both and reminds us how a good action movie should make us feel.  It’s cleverly written, masterfully directed, and potently acted.  It maintains an uncannily even keel while juggling action, mystery, and even some wit and heart.  Come December, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is still one of my favorites of the year.

The movie’s captivating sci-fi premise is executed admirably and with precision, largely thanks to how screenwriter Ben Ripley insists on making it so simple.  “Source Code” reminds us that original and complex aren’t necessarily synonyms on screen.  In about the time that it took “Inception” to lay out its exposition, Ripley gets us in and out of the source code, never making us feel lost or confused for a second.  Even at its short running time of under an hour and a half, we never feel like shorted in terms of story or entertainment.

The titular program allows Captain Colter Stevens, played with cunning and intensity by Jake Gyllenhaal, to relive the 8 minutes before a bomb explodes on a train outside of Chicago in the body of teacher Sean Fentress.  As he switches back and forth between finding the terrorist inside the source code and figuring out his own status outside, Stevens is putting together more than just an elaborate puzzle – he’s piecing together his life.  The stakes are high, and Gyllenhaal along with Vera Farmiga’s stone-faced – but not unemotionally robotic – webcam operator play them as such.  The result is that we don’t just want to sit back and watch the characters put the pieces together; we want to join in from the other side of the screen.

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Random Factoid #565

25 05 2011

I’m going to laugh when I click the “Random Factoids” category in my sidebar and see a 3 1/2 month gap between Random Factoid #564 and #565.  In that last factoid, “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” had just come out in theaters.  Today, that movie has been on video for 2 weeks.  So that should give you an idea of just how long I’ve been away from factoiding.  (This time around, I’m going to try to find the joy in them rather than looking at them as a daily task that I often do willfully.)

So where to begin?  How about with the latest attraction at my “home” movie theater, RPX.  That, of course, stands for the Regal Premium EXperience.  For $4.50 more, you can get “crystal-clear ALL DIGITAL projection, high-impact GIANT SCREEN, powerful uncompressed SURROUND SOUND.”  (And if it applies, a “breathtaking IMMERSIVE 3D experience,” but it didn’t in my case.)  It was advertised as “the best picture you’ve ever heard,” so naturally I had to go see what all the fuss was about.

The RPX screen opened April 1 with “Source Code,” a movie I happened to be dying to see, so I went to check it out as soon as I got a chance.  What I once knew as “theater 11” had been totally revamped with a cavalcade of blue lights inside and outside the theater, and the seats had been replaced with smooth leather ones.  Off to a good start, but then the movie started.

“Source Code” was fantastic, yet I wasn’t blown away by the presentation.  I certainly didn’t understand why I needed to pay $4.50 more to see the movie on a slightly larger screen with marginally better sound.  It felt no different than seeing a movie digitally projected in a normal theater, which comes with no premium.

So, until further notice, my advice is to save your money and avoid the RPX until it actually provides a premium experience.