Source Code (May Contain Spoilers)

When I first saw posters advertising Source Code, I wrote it off as another attempt to re-package some same old crap from before in order to keep the sci-fi meter ticking over in Hollywood as all inventiveness was going out the window. Much like Battle: Los Angeles was. But then I saw that Source Code was directed by Duncan Jones, the same guy that directed the incredibly popular and interesting Moon last year, and I thought again about my initial judgment.

Source Code sees Jake Gyllenhaal as ex-helicopter marine Colter Stevens who wakes up to find himself in someone else’s body on a commuter train headed for Chicago. Across from him sits Christina (Michelle Monaghan), a beautiful young girl who seems to know the person Colter is currently in the body of. 8 minutes later, the train explodes killing hundreds of innocent people in the process. When Colter next wakes up, he finds himself in a capsule being talked through his mission by military official Officer Goodwin (Vera Farmiga). He gets told that he is part of an operation called “Source Code” – a new technology which allows someone to go into the echo of the mind of someone else for 8 minutes before they died, and it is Colter’s mission to re-live the same 8 minutes until he can find the bomb on the train and who set it off before more people get hurt.

The element I found most interesting about Source Code was the same element that I liked most about Moon, which is that throughout everything that’s happening you only know as much as the lead character knows – all of his questions, all the information he gets and everything he learns is the same for him and the audience at the same time. It doesn’t talk down to the audience by explaining everything in one go, but at the same time doesn’t leave anything unanswered by the time the credits roll either.

The drip-feed of information and the side-by-side storyline of Colter find out about the military programme he doesn’t remember being part of and working out who planted the bomb on the train and how to stop it is a very clever way of breaking up the action between the two. Of course, the big explanation that people want to know from the beginning is how “Source Code” works in the film. While it does get explained, it’s explained with such “real-world” physics and algorithms that no-one except your particle physicist mate sat next to you will understand it. But basically, he can be put in the echo of someone’s mind and it’s described as “time manipulation, not time travel” – he doesn’t go back in time, he just re-lives it.

A lot of ad campaigns right now seem to be drawing parallels between any new sci-fi film and Inception. Which personally, I don’t like as its partly killing the reputation of Inception but also because Source Code comes across more like a mixture of Groundhog Day and Quantum Leap. Each of those would be good enough on its own, but when they come together to create something as cerebral as Source Code, it can only be a good thing! In fact, Scott Bakula who played Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap is the voice of Colter’s father on the phone – coincidence? Well, not really, no.

Overall, Source Code has its own kind of originality that lets it stand out from other sci-fi white noise currently on the go, and the structure of the script and quality of the direction makes the story that much more gripping to watch. And considering that it ends in a way that isn’t ambiguous or with a dual meaning, everything gets rounded off in a satisfying way too. Source Code gets a 7 out of 10 from me for originality, and because I used to enjoy watching Quantum Leap as well!

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2 Comments

  1. I don’t know why, but part of me has always hated groundhogs day, but yet when it is on tv i still watch it! Jake Gyllenhaal is in A LOT of movies right now, I just saw him in Love and other drugs (chick flick) but this movie sounds good. i can’t wait to see what your write about Tangles…i mean Red riding hood. And i heard Scream 4 makes you laugh and is scary and has a great ending. I hardly go to the movies, why do i when i have your review to read 🙂

    • Groundhog Day is a fantastic film, what’s not to like?! haha, Yes he does seem to be doing the rounds a bit, but he had a bit of a silent period after Donnie Darko so he’s probably making up for that. He’s very good in this though, so theres no complaining. Red Riding Hood will be going up soon, and Scream 4 will be watched soon after I have re-visited the first 3 films I’ve borrowed off of someone (got to swat up for these things, you know?). You should definitely still go see these films, dont want to ruin the experiences for you!


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