Bryan's Movie Review: SOURCE CODE
Source Code is a heady trip of a science fiction movie dealing with versions of time travel and planes of existence that will definitely give you pause to think. Many fans of Duncan Jones have eagerly awaited his follow-up to the well received 2009 film Moon starring Sam Rockwell. Jones has once again delivered, though not to as quite to the same lofty heights of his directorial debut but a solid sci-fi action thriller nonetheless.
Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Captain Colter Stevens who awakens on a commuter train bound for Chicago very confused. Others, including the woman across from him (Michelle Monaghan as Christina Warren) seem to know him as someone else. In a state of panic Stevens discovers he is inhabiting another man’s body but before he can figure anything else out the entire train and all its passengers is obliterated in an explosion. Stevens wakes up in some sort of a cramped pod surrounded by wires and monitors where he becomes even more disoriented.
On one of the monitors he is addressed by Carol Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) who tells him he is part of a mission to find out who bombed the train and stop an even larger terrorist act planned for Chicago. He is sent back into the same sequence he woke up to with a little more knowledge than he had the previous experience. (You can see the first five minutes of Source Code here).
Thus starts off the chain of events for the movie. Each time our hero must harrowingly die and re-enter the source code, essentially the last eight minutes of a dead man’s life from the train. Each time he learns a little bit more whittling down suspects and fine tuning actions that did not serve him in prior entries. Between each of these “mission” he also learns more about his true self within the pod and what happened in Afghanistan where he served as an Army helicopter pilot. Now that he is seemingly back in the States, Stevens desperately tries to serve his own needs and reconnect with his father.
To go into anymore detail of the movie would be to give away major plot points and spoilers. Source Code is an entertaining blend of sci-fi, drama, action and a good old fashion whodunit. As you may have heard already the movie draws upon other themes from Groundhog Day and the TV show Quantum Leap but does so without seeming like a rehash. The relived eight minutes are varied throughout so as not to seem redundant. The movie also clocks in at a brisk 93 minutes and is used effectively through most every scene.
As I left the film, I found myself scratching my head at the science that was put forth and it seemed the movie was greatly flawed by its own physics and theories. The mark of any great fiction is to make its rules believable enough that you don’t question them while viewing. Source Code works in almost the opposite way, making you wonder why events are unfolding only to make sense of it more after fully digesting the science put forth. The more I explained it to a friend, the more everything came together for me. I am truly looking forward to revisiting this film again.
The actors all give very engaging but not overly remarkable performances. Farmiga is the best one here as she becomes morally conflicted by the mission. Because of the structure of the movie, they all must serve to carry out lots of exposition and narrative to move things along. Like a juggling act with, structure and storyline teeter on going out of control but Jones keeps it together and continues to throw more elements (plot twists, romance, suspense) into the mix much like the performance artist throws in the bowling pin, the torch and the chainsaw. Source Code scrambles a bit but doesn’t drop anything.