By Larry McCloskey
It has become all too popular in the last year to describe any action film with an ounce of intelligence as “Inception meets [insert ridiculous comparison here]“. The quote is then plastered all over the poster of said film and the studio reaps the financial benefits of a misled audience. Luckily, the Source Code poster has managed to avoid this particular pitfall. Despite being labelled “Inception meets Groundhog Day meets Final Destination”, the marketing fellas decided against whacking that on but there is always hope for the DVD cover. That is not to say however it has not attempted to disguise itself as something it is not.
On many of the posters is the statement, “From the director of Moon”. For the cineliteratethen this would no doubt immediately tick a box. Duncan Jones’ piece was one of the finest directorial debuts in years in terms of creativity, vision and producing miracles on a budget. But for the cinecynic, the phrase “From the director of….” is an immediate red flag. An attempt to cash in on former glories perhaps? To move the film away from popcorn action film and towards the philosophical?
Having watched the film, it has hard to say what Jones’ input is. The film works perfectly well for the run time. It is not overly long and never seems tedious despite the script requiring that it replay the same moment again and again and again. The performance by Jake Gyllenhaal does the job and as usual he is a likable screen presence. Though it seems as though it is a directing by numbers exercise and what creative input Jones has seems to be limited in this well rounded bit of Hollywood action fluff.
The problematic issue that lies at the heart of the film is that in many ways it is just a Tony Scott film without the blurry slo-mo action shots. A well-built and personable hero? Check. Numerous large set piece disasters? Check. Explosions? Check. Denzel Washington? No. Wacky government science programme a la Deja Vu? You better believe it. The audience are convinced not to question the sheer lunacy of the script because it’s all “metaphysics/metamechanics/metanonsense…basically you would not understand”. Pseudo-science so beyond belief is used to sellotape together a ludicrous story. Though it does allow for some intriguing questions to be asked about life and death, as soon as the bright lights of the box office hit then you will be wondering how you did not end up chuckling at the daftness unravelling on screen.
Jones will no doubt be unharmed though. The film has picked up a range of four star with a rather impressive 71/100 on Metacritic. Whether that may be down to the attachment of the appealing pairing of Jones/Gyllenhaal, the fact that there is little to complain about in terms of visual realisation or maybe it just caught the critics on a good day. As with a Tony Scott film – turn your mind off and you will probably have a good time.
Larry McCloskey is a writer for The Big Screen as well as a contributing author to A&E Playground.