You ever walk out of a movie really pleased with what you saw and excited to tell your friends about it? Only to realize that you can’t really talk about much of the movie without ruining what made it so good. Source Code is that exact movie. It’s a lot better than the trailer made it out to be and it puts the HORRIBLE poster art to shame. It manages to take your typical Hollywood sci-fi/action movie and add an actual story with real characters. It knows its limits and it never manages to completely lose you. Yes, there are a few problems with the idea of Source Code, but if you can accept it for what it is, you will be in for a very thrilling film.
Source Code stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a soldier named Colter Stevens, who wakes up in a very weird situation. He is in a program called the Source Code, which allows you to view the last 8 minutes of someone else’s life. He is assigned a mission to help find a bomb on a train that exploded and killed tons of people. If he finds the bomb and possibly the bomber, he can help prevent the next attack. Leading the mission is Dr. Rutledge, a very cold and heartless programmer who came up with the Source Code, played by Jeffrey Wright. Under Rutledge’s command is Colleen Goodwin, played by Verma Farmiga. Goodwin is a good character that just wants to follow orders and get through her day, but as the situation unfolds, she starts to realize the big picture of the Source Code. Finally, rounding out the cast is Christina Warren, played by Michelle Monaghan. Christina is the love interest in the film, the reason that motivates Colter throughout the entire film. His main priority is the bomb, but he keeps coming back to interact with Christina.
Colter is faced with quite a predicament. He doesn’t remember how he got into the Source Code and he doesn’t know anyone in charge. So he must find the bomb and stop the bomber while trying to figure out what the Source Code actually is. It’s a very interesting concept and had it been in the hands of a lesser director I think Source Code would have failed horribly. The trailers make it out to look like your typical generic sci-fi affair and it probably would have been exactly that. Luckily, it turned out to be a very good film due to the direction of Duncan Jones. Jones has only directed one other film and that would be 2009’s Moon. It’s a great film about a man working on the moon all alone and trying to keep his sanity. Moon manages to give you a powerhouse performance by Sam Rockwell. Rockwell captures the emotions of being lonely and possibly insane in such an authentic way. It was a character study set in space with lots of heart. I strongly suggest you check out Moon. Sorry about that side rant, but as I was saying, Source Code really does manage to break free and be its own little film thanks to Jones. He takes a script and transforms it to a new level by utilizing his ability to add “twists” without making them feel like “twists”. It’s hard to explain and it really doesn’t make any sense when you read it, but Jones is a genius at doing this sort of thing with his films. That’s what makes them so hard to talk about. Within the first ten minutes of Source Code, something happens that would be considered a spoiler. By this event occurring, I can’t really discuss much of anything else without ruining even more. All you need to know is Source Code is more than meets the eye.
I really did enjoy the story of Source Code. It takes so many turns throughout the film that you would not have expected. I had several scenarios in my head of how the film would play out and none of them ended up happening, which was refreshing. Usually with these types of films you can guess pretty quickly how it’s going to end or how they are going to attach the first part to the second part, but Source Code manages to take some odd turns for the better.
What really drove Source Code was the knock-out performance by Jake Gyllenhaal. He’s always been an actor to keep an eye out for and this really does seem to be one of his break out movies. It shows that he can star in a movie and really make it something special. The ability to balance so many different emotions was what really got me. He started out the film as one of those strict, by the book type Army soldiers and then he slowly transforms into a caring individual with a lot of things going on in his life. He understands the importance of saving lives on the train and he also understands the importance of figuring out what the Source Code really is. He was able to smoothly flow from one set of emotions to the next and that really did help make this movie something different. I hope Source Code does well and I really hope Jake can skip on more projects like Prince of Persia and stick to these types of films.
I can’t say all of those great things without mentioning a few of the problems Source Code had. They were very minor, but still noticeable. The first is the Source Code itself. It’s never fully explained and I’m sure if you really thought it out, you could disprove it pretty fast, but if you’re willing to accept it as part of the story, then it shouldn’t be a big problem for you. The main problem I had with the film was the lack of urgency. They kept saying how he had little time to figure out who the bomber was before the next attack, but he relives the 8 minutes about a dozen times! After a while you really start to wonder if the next attack is ever going to happen.
Overall, Source Code is a really good movie that is much better than its marketing made it out to be. It has such a refreshing story that twists and turns until the very end, which I might add was brilliant! I really loved how it all wrapped up and it felt very optimistic and different. There are a few problems with Source Code, but I’d say the positives outweigh the negatives.
Source Code – 8/10