Mystery, chase, suspense and time displacement are all served up in director Duncan Jones’ “Source Code.”
In the movie, Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a decorated army pilot fighting in Afghanistan. He wakes up on a train bound for Chicago and is greeted by a woman named Christina (Michelle Monaghan), who apparently knows him. He soon discovers that he isn’t himself, and then a bomb goes off destroying the train. He then awakens to the sound of someone’s voice; he is being addressed by a woman, Carol Goodwin (Vera Farmiga). She quickly informs him that he is part of a government experiment called the “Source Code,” a program in which they can transfer the mind of one person into the body of another in the last eight minutes of their lives.
Colter is being used to investigate a train that already has been destroyed in the past to track down and find the terrorists so they can stop the next attack. Being sent back over and over again, he struggles to find the information that his superiors are seeking. They are relying purely on his experiences in the Source Code to prevent an impending attack on the city by the same bomber. Can he gather all the necessary data in time to make a difference in the present?
This movie is a fast-paced action thriller that involves elements of danger, mystery, science fiction, technology, morals, love and patriotic duty. There are some plot twists and revelations that I can’t go into because it will ruin the latter part of the movie, but this is a film that is driven by Gyllenhaal’s performance and is a far better fit to his acting style than last year’s “Prince of Persia.” Interestingly, Gyllenhaal came across this script and brought it to director Duncan Jones’ attention because he knew this would be a movie completely driven by him and an exhibition of his acting talents. Gyllenhaal succeeds in being the hero, heart and detective in this story.
Vera Farmiga — whom I absolutely loved in “Up in the Air” — is Captain Colter Stevens mirrored opposite on the other end of the experiment who helps to motivate and drive Stevens to continue in his quest for the answers. She is seen as a bit cold and calculative at first, but then opens up herself to more emotions as the film progresses.
The remainder of the supporting cast delivers in limited roles. Jeffrey Wright has a smaller part as Dr. Rutledge, the inventor and overseer of the source code technology and program. He is seen very little and heard even less, but plays a key role in the conclusion of the film. Monaghan is underutilized as a pretty face and love interest — I would have liked to have seen her play a bigger part in the climax.
Bottom line, this is a fun, action-packed science fiction adventure movie. It could even be categorized with movies like “Inception,” but it requires much less thought. It rests on the scientific principles that they try to explain to the audience, but you definitely have to suspend practical belief and just enjoy the ride. The movie starts off quick and holds that momentum until the end of the film, where it slows down a bit, but after an hour or so you are ready for a break in the tension. This film’s triumphs far surpass its weaknesses and with the right mindset can be a completely fun and enjoyable film.
“Source Code” opens in theaters everywhere April 1 and is rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and language.
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