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Source Code

A sci-fi thriller directed by Duncan Jones and starring Jake Gyllenhaal.

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Problems at the Source

  • Mar 31, 2011
  • by
Written by Ben Ripley
Directed by Duncan Jones
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Mognahan, Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright
Colter Stevens: It’s the same train but it’s different.
The dreamy Jake Gyllenhaal is doing a little dreaming of his own, his head resting against the glass as he rides a commuter train into Chicago, one seemingly random morning. This is the onset of THE SOURCE CODE and when he wakes up, it is pretty clear to everyone around him that something is just not right. Just like his fellow commuters though, Gyllenhaal has no idea what exactly it is that isn’t right. You can tell from the look on his face that he feels like he has been on this train before. It isn’t until he looks in a mirror that he questions whether he is even on the train at all. And it all just blows up after that.
Gyllenhaal is Captain Colter Stevens, an American soldier who is an integral part of an experimental and classified army mission meant to prevent terrorist attacks. The trouble is that Captain Stevens doesn’t seem to have any recollection of his being assigned to this mission; the last thing he remembers is flying in an air strike unit. His problems are only magnified when he realizes that the man he is on the train isn’t even him. Stevens, as it is explained to him, and subsequently us, at frustrating length, is part of the source code when he is on the train. What is the source code, you ask? Well, the source code is eight minutes of recereated or alternate time in which Stevens is transported into another commuter’s body in an effort to find the man who has planted a bomb on the train. This not only makes the source code experimental; it also makes it pretty far fetched.
The train has already blown up in reality. There is nothing that can be done to stop it from happening. The man who blows it up though has bigger designs for the city of Chicago itself and this can still be prevented if only Colter could focus on the task at hand. He cannot focus at first though because he cannot get his footing. It is as if he has had no formal training for this mission and his contacts at the base (Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright) are oddly cold and uncooperative whenever he inquires about anything outside his mission. The purpose is later explained but the blatant attempt to disorient the viewer comes off as more manipulative than revealing. Colter does get the hang of things eventually though and then it all becomes about the puzzle, with every object in plain sight becoming a potential clue. Numerous erratic shakedowns ensue.
Director, Duncan Jones, created a quiet and contemplative work of science fiction with his debut, MOON, and has naturally graduated to the big(ger) leagues with THE SOURCE CODE. While he is efficient with his extra funds, the larger cast and more convoluted story are too much for him to grasp all at once. With a repeated loop of eight minutes and a train that blows up every time those eight minutes elapse, Jones has a very specific frame to work within but there isn’t enough growth between loops to keep people engaged. The other passengers might as well be cardboard cutouts for how much they bring to the experience and they look even more lost than Gyllenhaal did at the start.  In the end, the code itself is just too complicated - it requires constant explanation, the effect of which only serves to highlight how ludicrous it is. 

Thanks for reading.
LUNCH rating is out of 10.

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April 01, 2011
Good review. Very thorough. You agree with my husband...Oh well...Maybe it's more of a chick film because of the romance angle. guys seem to thing Jake is wimpy. LOL
April 10, 2011
I love me some Jake to be honest. I thought he was the best thing about this film, I found. He is a bit of a stretch as a big action hero though and they keep trying to make him into that.
April 01, 2011
I was curious about this since it was done by the director of "Moon" but with the trailer I thought it was a bit kinda like "Eagle Eye" collides with "Next". Thanks for the warning, I may still see this one tomorrow (or Insidious), hey did you review Limitless?
April 10, 2011
People are genuinely enjoying this film, which shocks me. Trust me; it is no MOON. And no, I did not even see Limitless. I hear it is better than it looks.
More Source Code reviews
review by . April 02, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Alternate Realities Diverge And Multiply in The Source....
“Moon” was an underappreciated sci-fi drama that never exactly made that much profit in the box-office. I really did enjoy the movie “Moon” which is why I was willing to take a chance with director Duncan Jones' latest attempt at a action/sci-fi thriller called “Source Code”. When I saw the trailers, it hit me as sort of a "Quantum Leap" and “Next” colliding with “Groundhog Day” and the cult movie “Retroactive”. …
review by . April 01, 2011
The Source Code Delivers
Following upon his breakout success with the film Moon director Duncan Jones has returned with Source Code and has proven that he is not a one-hit wonder but also a talent on the rise. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Colter Stevens who, after waking up on a train, finds himself disoriented and unable to identify his travel companion, the attractive Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan), who sits across from him eagerly discussing things they appear to have spoken about previously. Taking a quick …
review by . April 05, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
   Source Code is a suspenseful, surprisingly intelligent, occasionally touching, movie that’s far better than I’d expected it to be. With tight pacing, great editing, good acting and fine directing by Duncan Jones, best known for Moon, it’s a very good sci-fi action film released outside the usual summertime area for such movies. The film tells the tale of a man (Jake Gyllenhall), who wakes up on a train. He has no idea why he’s there or who the woman across …
review by . August 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****     "Source Code" is an engaging thriller, a touching human love-story, and an intelligent science-fiction flick all rolled up into one 90-minute film. That's a lot of ambition, and if you know the concept of the film, you'll know exactly how much this film carries with it. I suppose you either like it - and many will - or you don't. I didn't find it to be masterful, but for what it is; I was appreciative of it. Here's a thriller that is truly thrilling, and a …
review by . May 02, 2011
Well, who knew David Bowie's son would turn into quite the talented young director? I, as of now, have not seen Moon, but I really want to, and seeing this movie has secured my faith in Jones and knowledge that he can deliver great movies. Anyway, I have finally seen Source Code, which was one of my most anticipated movies of the year (besides Scream 4 and a lot of superhero stuff). May I say, I was not disappointed. This is the best film of the year thus far and if nothing more similar comes, …
review by . May 02, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
You wake up on a Chicago Commuter train. You are disoriented you feel out of place in this situation as if this is some kind of surreal hyper-realistic, vivid dream. It feels so real so lifelike you start to look around to try to get your bearings when you hear a beautiful woman's voice calling you but she is calling you by a name that you are not familiar with, she is calling you Sean. But your name is not Sean   you have no idea who she is or what is going  you try …
review by . April 12, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) is an american soldier who wakes up in the body of a man he does not know. On a train to who knows where, his last memory is of him flying a helicopter in Afghanistan. He looks in the mirror and sees a different man, and after only 8 minutes in the train it explodes. Stevens then wakes up in some form of a pod, and is informed by a woman named Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) that he is the main part of a mission to find the bomb, and bomber that is in the Chicago …
review by . April 02, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         My natural impulse is to resist films about time travel and/or parallel universes, mostly because they operate under rules of logic so confusing, it would take nothing less than an advanced degree in quantum physics to understand them. Duncan Jones’ Source Code is like that; although it successfully draws you in and keeps you engaged, it’s founded on a scientific premise that actually makes less sense the more you think about it. Explanations …
review by . March 31, 2011
'Source Code' 'Two Jews On Film Aren't On The Same Track With This SciFi Thriller (Video)
'Source Code' directed by Duncan Jones stars Jake Gyllenhaal as decorated soldier Captain Colter Stevens who wakes with a jolt to find himself on a commuter train heading into Chicago.       Although the other passengers all seem to know him, including a woman, Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan, seated across from him, Colter has absolutely no idea where he is or how he got there.  The last thing he remembers is flying a helicopter in Afghanistan.     …
review by . July 05, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
'Source Code' Reboots the Sci-Fi Action Thriller Franchise
'Source Code' does what 'Vantage Point' tried, but failed, to do. It makes us look at a public scene where some imminent violence or calamity is about to take place, and then backs up to show us the same scene again with a different point-of-view. As has been stated time and time again, Source Code's method may be preposterous science fiction--like anime' adventure 'Paprika,' but its thrust is decidedly more closely aligned to 'Groundhog Day'.   …
About the reviewer
Joseph Belanger ()
Ranked #24
Hello Lunchers. I am a thirty-something guy making his way in Toronto. I am a banker by day and a film critic the rest of the time. Sensitive, sharp and sarcastic are just a few words that start with … more
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About this movie


When decorated airman Captain Colter Stevens (Gyllenhaal) wakes up in the body of an unknown man, he discovers he's part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train. In an assignment unlike any he's ever known, he learns he's part of a government experiment called the "Source Code", a program that enables him to cross over into another man's identity in the last 8 minutes of his life.

With a second much larger target threatening to kill millions in downtown Chicago, Colter re-lives the incident over and over again, gathering clues each time, until he can solve the mystery of who is behind the bombs and prevent the next attack, but he eventually falls in love with one of the passengers.

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Director: Duncan Jones
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Release Date: April 1, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Ben Ripley
Studio: Summit Entertainment
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