The essential element in cinema is the reorganization of time and space. In the hands of a skilled filmmaker it makes you look at the world differently. In Moon Duncan Jones took a simple concept and made a film with a depth and heart that transcended the idea. At the core of both Moon and Source Code are explorations of identity and choice. Moon was one of my favourite films of the year when it was released. With a low budget, economical style of shooting and a great performance from Sam Rockwell it was a solid 70s style science fiction film. Now with a bigger budget and a larger cast Duncan Jones is back with Source Code which has a similar feeling.
Apparently the screenplay for the film was around for a while as one of the hottest unproduced screenplays of 2007. On paper it’s a challenging concept and it could have been kind of a silly film with explosions and cardboard characters. Duncan Jones gets great performances from Jake Gyllenhall and Michelle Monaghan as well as the always reliable Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright. While the trailer lays out the whole concept of the film, the way that it’s revealed is much more interesting. The location is established (a Chicago commuter train) and the characters. Then, after 8 minutes comes the first twist and the template is established. Kind of like variations on a theme.
The title assigned to the military operation - Beleaguered Castle- is far more compelling and intriguing than the title of the film. The name is a variation of Solitaire with 8 rows of cards. These little geeky touches are scattered throughout the film and are fun without being distracting. While the name Beleaguered Castle sounds plausible (a logical name for a military operation) it is also quite evocative, which encapsulates the way the entire film works.