Thursday, April 7, 2011

Jake's on a train

It has come to my attention that this blog is fairly judgmental.

Not quite as judgmental as the Phelps family I saw on Louis Theroux: America’s Most Hated Family In Crisis last night who spend their downtime picketing military funerals and screaming GOD HATES YOU!! FAGS!! BURN IN HELL!!! at same sex couples in the street wishing they’d taken an alternative route to Wal-Mart, but fairly judgmental nonetheless.

So I thought that today I’d write about a film I liked. Yes you heard that correctly. A FILM THAT I LIKED. Because believe it or not there are actually quite a lot of films out there which fall into this category.

Lately I’ve been feeling like a lot of films have let me down. Maybe my expectations were too high (that’s you Inception). Maybe they weren’t worth the hype (oh hi The King’s Speech). OR MAYBE I JUST WANTED TO WATCH A REALLY GOOD MOVIE. Well whatever.

Even Submarine was kind of a disappointment. I really wanted to like it, mainly because writer Joe Dunthorne has an MA in Creative Writing AND SO DO I!! Which gives me a tiny glimmer of hope for the future. But it was just a bit… small. A bit TOO British, kind of like how Liam Gallagher looks when he wears a fisherman’s hat on the beach in Mallorca.

With the kiss of death planted by Paddy Considine as a mystic ninja with a mullet and an inexplicably attractive girlfriend, which of course is totally in keeping with the realist tone of the rest of the film, because mystic ninjas are two a penny in Wales and it’s almost a surprise if you DON’T have one living next door.

Oops. I seem to have slipped back into default bitch mode. Paddy Considine aside, there were lots of good things about Submarine and I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing what Richard Ayoade does next.

So there.

But it seems like whenever I go into the cinema expecting something to be a total letdown (hello Never Let Me Go) I’m pleasantly surprised to find it’s OK.

So I really REALLY tried not to get excited about Source Code. Even though it’s sci-fi (which I love) and the follow up to Moon (which I love) and the premise was kinda Hitchcockian which I ALSO love i.e. the whole concept was so up my street it’s paying rent on my back garden.

Luckily because the marketing on this film was so piss-poor it wasn’t difficult.

Look at this poster.

That is a TERRIBLE poster. It looks like the sequel to The Day After Tomorrow. And MAN I do not want to see that movie.


Source Code is about a man who has eight minutes to find out who planted a bomb on the commuter train to Chicago. Luckily – or not – some clever dick, sorry, scientific genius (Jeffrey Wright, hammier than Miss Piggy being porked by Babe the Sheep-Pig with a giant chorizo) has worked out a way to repeat these eight minutes multiple times until Jake Gyllenhaal finally gets it on with Heath Ledger. Wait no. Until he identifies the bomber in order to stop a second, bigger explosion in downtown Chicago. Anyway, these eight minutes are the Source Code, and Jake’s an amputee pilot who’s been kept alive and somehow transferred into the body of schoolteacher Sean Fentress to sort it the fuck out.

It feels like a thematic sequel to Moon. Jake Gyllenhaal (who actually looks a bit like Sam Rockwell if you squint) discovers he’s being used by the government. He can’t do much about it but he is DAMN WELL GOING TO TRY. Although the four endings on display here make it pretty much impossible to work out if he manages to do anything about it or not. Which is sort of in line with ALL THE MASSIVE PLOT HOLES, which I won’t go into now, mainly because my fingers will probably drop off from all the typing because there are SO MANY.

This is the kind of thing I HATE. This is the kind of thing EVERYONE hates. But they’re not obvious enough at the time to stop you enjoying it. Go with the flow and almost all of it makes sense. Yeah, he said the bomber definitely had to be on the train. Oh look, there’s the bomber. Hang on. Who? Oh the bloke who just got off the train. Oh well never mind.

Another thing I pretty much ALWAYS hate is whizzkid bombers in films. Their reasons for wanting to blow other people up are almost always stupid, plus how the hell does a 20-something Ivy League graduate know how to make a bomb? And not just an ordinary bomb either. This bomb has been PIMPED. Not only is there enough explosive in this kid’s van to blow Chicago sky-high BUT the entire van is wired up to some weird Rubix cube shit in a Stars ‘n’ Stripes box. I mean, come on. Do bombers really put that much effort into the d├ęcor? I guess in movies they do.

This would usually annoy me but it didn’t.

It didn’t annoy me because I realised it didn’t actually matter who the bomber was. Finding the bomber isn’t the point. If Source Code was just a sci-fi thriller then Jake would find the bomber, save the world, game over, and we’d all go home disappointed.

But the main reason Source Code works is because it ISN’T just a thriller. Great! Jake’s found the bad guy!! NOW WHAT THE HELL HAPPENS?? Because Jake isn’t Jake at all, but a very small amount of the brain function of a just-about-still-alive pilot on life support, stuck in the body of a schoolteacher who's fallen in love with the girl he's sitting next to on the train. And Jeffrey Wright's about to pull the plug.

I won't ruin the ending(s).

But Jake dies, Heath keeps Jake's shirt and is left to live out the rest of his miserable life alone because he was too much of a pussy to own up to being a gay cowboy.


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