“Source Code” Movie Review

     “Source Code” is one of those films which I really can’t talk about in too great of detail without giving away the key elements of the plot.  I’ll do my best to weigh in on the  film without spoiling it for you.  The film stars the ever popular Jake Gyllenhaal, who is on a roll as of late, seemingly churning out new films at an astonishing rate.  What I like about his choices so far is the quality of films he is appearing in.  Not great films, but they are quality serviceable entertainments such as “The Prince of Persia” and “Love and Other Drugs.”  “Source Code” follows this trend and may be Gyllenhaal’s best  and most challenging film to date.

     The film begins with Captain Colter Stevens (Gyllenhaal) waking up in another man’s body aboard a Chicago commuter train.  It is immediately apparent to him he is accompanied by a young woman named Christina (Michelle Monaghan), but he doesn’t know why or how he got there.  Within minutes, the train explodes and everyone in it is killed.  Stevens then wakes ups again.  This time he is in some sort of pod and is strapped into a flight chair.  He doesn’t know how or why he got there.  He then looks to his left and a woman on a small monitor appears.  The woman begins to explain to him the process behind “Source Code”.  Stevens has a similar genetic makeup as one of the train’s passengers.  It is explained the terrorist event on the train has already occurred, but through Source Code, Stevens can be inserted into the past as another person and interact with everyone on the train, consequence free.  The woman goes on to tell Stevens there is another threat to the city of Chicago and his mission is to find out who the bomber is on the train.  The catch is he only has 8 minutes to do so each time, in other words he is inserted 8 minutes prior to the explosion at the same point in time each time.

     As Stevens begins to look for the terrorist by process of elimination, he also gets to know the woman he is speaking to on the monitor between Source Code insertions.  Her name is Captain Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) and as the film moves on, she definitely develops a bond with Stevens as she guides and coaches him prior to each time he enters the scenario.  From there, I would be giving away too much and that would be a disservice.  The film is full of surprises and is not predictable.  Though the basis of the story is preposterous, this does qualify as “Sci-Fi” so suspend your disbelief and you’ll be fine.  Sometimes these present day stories come with the expectation of technological realism and that wouldn’t be fair to a film like this.

     For sure, Source Code owes a lot of its inspiration to “The Matrix”, as well as last year’s “Inception.”  I wouldn’t go as far as to say Source Code rips off either of those films, but it is definitely within their realm.  The cast is top notch and the production is solid throughout.  There are some genuine emotional moments between several of the characters, each making you think and consider the situations they are in.  I especially liked Michelle Monaghan in her role as Christina.  Like “Ground Hog Day”, her character and Gyllenhaal’s are thrown into the exact same circumstance numerous times, yet she makes each different as the scenario unfolds.  It’s amazing how many events occur in each 8 minute segment.  At the very least, Source Code takes a sharp examination at what life after death might be like, from a scientific point of view of course.  GRADE: B+