One of the few non-spoilers I can relate about the new Duncan Jones film Source Code is that it’s not released under the GPL. Oh, and it has a 12 certificate rather than an X.509 certificate. Even so, I imagine someone from the smoking remains of Caldera/SCO is already, Terminator-like, reaching an immortal hand from a lava lake in a bid to claim that certain lines of the screenplay are copied verbatim from its priceless intellectual property – where by “lines” they mean “words”, such as “include” and “the”.
The truth is that Source Code is undoubtedly inspired by at least one other copyrighted work, as subtly acknowledged by one particular casting choice and a line delivered by that character. It’s part Groundhog Day, part Quantum Leap.
The Bill Murray/Scott Bakula role is taken by Jake Gyllenhaal
’s big blue eyes. Other characters probably appeared. I found only two flaws in his performance: he was occasionally off-screen, and he kept his clothes on. I trust he can learn from this experience and rectify it in future roles.
… sigh …
Sorry. Drifted off there briefly.
The Quantum Leap part: Jake-sigh wakes to find himself seemingly in another person’s body. But why? How? And then for reasons unknown he’s suddenly somewhere else, with the equivalent of the Quantum Leap character Al – some woman or other. It becomes evident he must go back, Groundhog-like, and repeat himself. We discover what’s going on as he does; indeed the film starts with no preamble bar some city-swooping scene-setting in the opening credits – we’re straight into the story, as confused as Jake.
As with Duncan/Zowie Jones/Bowie’s previous film, Moon, the screenplay doesn’t spoon-feed you or festoon the sets with neon arrows honking at plot points. It toys with you a little: a misdirection here, a surprise there. It’s more moving than you might expect. It’s an intelligent film that treats you as more than the slack-faced drooler Hollywood usually targets. And I’m pleased to say that it’s resplendent in all two of the traditional, sufficient movie dimensions.
One of the few nits I can pick in the film – ignoring Jake’s lack of lack of clothes – is the title. I’m sure no-one will settle down with their popcorn expecting ninety minutes of emacs pr0n or even Linus Torvalds’ life story (well, if they can make a film about Facebook), but it feels as though they couldn’t think of a better title. It’s not wrong, exactly, but nor does it feel entirely right. On the other hand, perhaps it puts off the droolers – who’d last about fifteen minutes before ejecting overpriced confectionery and bleating about the lack of
nudity black and white hats.
Jones is quickly earning a reputation for intelligent, entertaining, genuinely thought-provoking movies. I look forward to seeing how he trumps this one with his next film, which I understand will be a subtle allegory about the Vietnam war called Underfloor Heating.
Avaragado’s rating: swiss cheese