Source Code

Movie Review: "Source Code"


“Source Code”
Directed by Duncan Jones
Summit Entertainment

There are many draws to “Source Code,” such as a rugged-looking Jake Gyllenhaal, up-and-coming sci-fi director Duncan Jones and the promise of an intelligent action film. Regardless of the reason, this film has plenty to offer.
Gyllenhaal plays Colter Stevens, a captain and helicopter pilot in the U.S. Air Force who finds himself on a train to Chicago with no memory of how he got there.
One of Stevens’ officers explains to him that, through a complex set of machinery, Stevens is able to inhabit the body of Sean, a passenger aboard a train ““ but only for the last eight minutes of Sean’s life before a bomb goes off and destroys it. Stevens must use what precious time he is given to find out who is responsible for planting the bomb and where this bomber plans to strike again.
However, things get complicated, as Stevens slowly falls in love with Sean’s romantic interest, Christina (Michelle Monaghan).
Stevens starts to believe that he can save the passengers on the train. However, his superiors tell him that what he is witnessing each time he enters “the source code” has already occurred, and the outcome cannot be changed.
As the film opens, Stevens is frustrated as he struggles to remember how he got onto the train and figure out why others think he is someone else. Even if the audience knows what’s going on, viewers are put in Stevens’ mindset.
As he discovers the complexities and particulars of his situation, so too do the viewers.
The film throws the viewer in the midst of the plot, explaining the details and revealing clues over the course of the film. This technique is reminiscent of other recent action films such as “Inception,” and it works just as well here.


Much of the technical particulars of the “source code” are explained away early on as “quantum mechanics and parabolic algebra.” While this might sound like the creators are avoiding giving a real explanation, it proves effective in terms of only giving the viewer, and Stevens, what they absolutely need to know.
For the most part, the film follows the rules it has set up in the world that it’s developed. In this world, the creators offer plenty of room for great moments.
In one scene, for example, Stevens knows he has only a few more minutes to live, and so he uses any means necessary, punching a man in the face, to find the bomber.
The only poorly executed part of the film is the post-climax resolution, which drags on a bit longer than necessary, feeling forced at times. While the final message that this resolution delivers has pretty large consequences for the world that the movie has crafted, it really doesn’t have much to deliver to viewers unless they’re really willing to dig deep to find a message.

What we have here, setting aside the fancy editing involving the time travel, is something that looks like hard science fiction. That's a threatened genre. Movies with plots are threatened in general; much modern "science fiction" involves blowing stuff up. The good classic sci-fi involved starting with an idea and exploring its implications.

7.5/10 IMDb92% Rotten Tomatoes


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