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Source Code (2011)
Make every second count.
Filmmaker(s): Duncan Jones

When decorated soldier Captain Colter Stevens wakes up in the body of an unknown man, he discovers he's part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train.

Source Code (2011)

Time and Times and Half Time

An unfortunate rule in science fiction is that you have to explain the world. Thus, you have to maintain three story lines. One is the story that you give the viewers to get them from where they are to where the film is. Usually, the filmmaker either calls up a genre shorthand or invokes an all-powerful military or corporate force.

A second story involves the mechanics of that world as they develop through the film. Here, the mechanics are simple: you have the real world (of the movie) and an eight minute entry into quantum parallel worlds sharing a common event. As the story progresses, a human mind powered by love is able to shift the layers of that quantum reality. Okay.

The third story is what we allow ourselves to register, be it a romance or redemption story — or one of the very few other options in the sellable storybag.

The goal of a talented storyteller (at least in this market) is to enhance the engagement in that third story by folding the second and possibly the first by some shared structure. Think of ‘50 First Dates‘ which successfully merged all three and teased us into investing in the romance beyond the barriers we normally would erect.

Now this. These three story threads coexist in the same ninety minutes, but otherwise they are distinct. The first is a cheat: military technology don’t ya know.

The second is also a cheat of sorts because the parallel quantum folds aren’t used narratively. We have the faint impress of a detective searching, plus some explosions. Chicago is made safe (in one of the parallel realities, but not the one we started in).

The third story is perhaps the biggest cheat of all, the romance: boy falls in love and gets the girl. But how? Why? There is no seduction, no pull, no engagement between them or between the couple and us.

‘Inception‘ is sometimes criticised for being sterile. It wasn’t for me because I was able to ignore Hans Zimmer‘s hospital machine drone, and surf the resonances among the three stories and their surprises. ‘Groundhog Day‘ was a success because of its uncomplicated harmony among the three (the first alluding to camera magic).

This is a disaster. And it wouldn‘t be at Nellis.

Posted in 2011

Ted’s Evaluation — 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.


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