Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Geek's Guide to the Movies: Source Code

Honestly, I have no friggin' idea what a Source Code is. I'm a nerdy kind of geek, not the master techie one. I know my way around an operating system, and I don't panic when the screen turns black and DOS-type words appear, but beyond that... moot.

So the title of this movie intrigued and scared me. I have to say, it's one of the most elitist titles ever chosen by movie producers. Only a few people truly understand the words "Source" and "Code" put together, and mayhaps it conjures not very interesting images of green font blinking jarringly against black screen. It is an inaccessible jargon, and it may have just ruined the chances of this movie ever being watched by non-geeks. A true loss for everyone.

The movie is a toned-down Inception --- in the sense that it makes you believe in something that usually shouldn't make sense. The premise is that Capt. Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhall) awakes in a different body on a speeding train which bursts to flames 8 minutes later. The last time he was conscious, he was in the middle of the fight covered in blood and mud in Iraq, so yes, the monkey suit, coach train and pretty girl in front of him was a jarring, confusing reality to wake up to. 8 minutes later though, the train is blown up by a bomb, and he is transported back to a capsule where he learns he is on a military mission to stop a massive bomb threat to downtown Chicago, an event which is connected to the exploded train that morning.

I better take a breather to explain how they made it sound possible, and it gets a bit science-y, be warned: Colter woke up in the body of Sean Fentress, a history teacher, who was on that train. They are the closest fit to body built, race, some genetic similarities enabling Colter to inhibit Sean's memory of his body and surroundings for the last 8 minutes. You remember that latest G.I. Joe movie where they tried to get the last few seconds of an enemy's memory to know who is controlling those metal eating tiny monstrosities? Well, in the movie, that they were able to retrieve Sean's brains in which his synaptic nerves still contains the memory of the last 8 minutes of his life. That's why, Colter only has 8 minutes every time he goes back to the train. The inventor and controlling officer (Goodwin) also explained that it wasn't a form of time travel, you could not change anything. Nobody could exist outside the Source Code.

But the catch is, everytime he goes back, it's another version of reality. Meaning, as Colter said it, "it's the same train, but different." So he gets sent back and back again until he finds the bomb and the bomber and the possible whereabouts of the next massive bomb. He also discovers he is dead, save for a small part of his brain.

Regardless of his grief, he does find the bomber, he does save Chicago from a meltdown. But at the end, he asked for a final release, to go back to the train and try to save the people inside, including Christina (Michelle Monaghan). Even if it wouldn't change a thing. And in a final act of solidarity, the controlling officer sent him, and then unplugged his life support.

But not before Colter disables the bomb in the other reality, not before he kissed the girl (again), not before he dared a bitter comedian on board to give an impromptu performance to amuse everyone. The final seconds of his last 8 minutes (EVER) counted down, and at 00 hours the shot froze on the kiss, panned to the frozen happy faces of the people laughing... a far cry from the despaired, confused faces he kept seeing in the countless other 8 minutes he has been in.

The director is a genius. He knows when to freeze shots to emphasize the story. It was like watching a visual harmony, where the stops and gaps tells a story in itself.

And you have to watch the movie to know what happened in the -01 second. It's still showing, so I implore everyone who has a mind to use their brains while watching a movie (unlike in, let's say, Big Momma's Like Mother, Like Son)to catch it if it still shows after Holy Week.

Not everything about the movie makes sense in the afterthought, but it was sure worth it during the whole ride.

Finally, Geek's Guide can finally recommend a 2011 movie wholeheartedly. This is a rare thing, so it must mean something. :D

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