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have you met my friend Frank?


Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright, Michael Arden

Dr. Rutledge:  You know, many soldiers would find this preferable to death. The opportunity to continue serving their country.
Colter:  Have you… have you spent much time in battle, sir? Huh?
Dr. Rutledge:  That’s immaterial.
Colter:  Any soldier I’ve ever served with would say that one death is service enough.

It’s complicated…

A U.S. army helicopter pilot, Colter Stephens (Gyllenhaal), is tasked with discovering the identity of a terrorist bomber in the last 8 minutes before the bomb goes off in a commuter train.  The thing is, the bomb has already gone off.  Through a convoluted scientific process, Colter’s mind has been connected to the mind of a passenger that was on board the train.  He can relive the final 8 minutes over and over again until he figures out who the bomber was, hopefully preventing further bombings in the city.

Ya know, I really liked Duncan Jones’ first movie, Moon, and some aspects of Source Code are good, but it just doesn’t quite achieve what it seems to be shooting for.

The best way I can describe this one is Groundhog Day meets 12 Monkeys.  There is the similar theme of a person being sent seemingly through time (or perhaps not?) by scientists to gather information concerning the identity of a terrorist.  That’s the 12 Monkeys connection.  As for Groundhog Day, well, poor Colter Stephens is having to relive the same 8 minutes over and over again until he can accomplish his mission.

But there is more to the story than that.  Just like in Moon, not all is what it seems, and the major plot twist in this one does provide for some added emotional content.  Unfortunately, I think the story does get a little derailed (pun intended) by the wishy-washy scientific mumbo-jumbo.  They either needed to go all out with the scientific explanations or just leave it all completely mysterious.  The amount of info given is just enough to confuse and raise more questions without really answering many of them.

I do like how Jones does not see a need to end his movies with big action pieces or huge dramatic turns.  He seems to want to go for more of an emotional payoff rather than just spectacle.  Again though, this one missed the target a little bit for me.  I thought it was going to be really moving, but then boom, it got a little too sappy.  Plus, there’s one glaring oversight that I can’t really discuss – too spoileriffic – that left me saying, “but wait a second!  What about…?”

Actually, tell ya what…for those that have seen the movie, just highlight the white text in the blank area below to see what my beef was.  Am I wrong here??

At the end, when Colter saves the day and changes everything, his mind seems to be left in that other guy’s body…but what happened to the other guy’s consciousness??  Not such a happy ever after ending for him, eh?  One day he’s riding along on a train and then suddenly he doesn’t exist anymore.  That was a major distraction for me personally.
***End Spoilers***

Okay, back to visible text.

There are definitely some good moments here.  I liked Gyllenhaal’s performance, going from confusion to anger and then to calm determination, and I like Duncan Jones’ style.  He doesn’t need to use the Tony Scott style of hyper-editing, which is refreshing.  Seriously, I’m not sure there was even one helicopter in this movie.  Though, Colter was a helicopter pilot.  Think that was a little dig at Tony Scott’s overuse of helicopters in his train movie?

The silliness/convolution of the plot plus the disappointing last few minutes drop this one down a level below Moon, but I’m still looking forward to future projects from Duncan Jones.  He seems to understand that characters and emotions can be even more dramatically interesting than explosions and car chases.  And that movies about trains don’t need a bunch of helicopters flying around…

Racial profiling doesn’t work so well.

10 – 1.1 for a disappointing ending – 2 because it’s a little too repetitive and convoluted, plot-wise = 6.9