Source Code

A smart, thought provoking Sci-fi thriller that really challenges our ideas of time and for the most part you have no idea where it’s going. Directed by sci-fi fan and son of singer David Bowie, the promising young Duncan Jones, whose directorial debut film was the excellent Moon (2009) lives up to his reputation here as a director of films with heart.

The concept is a mix of time travel/parallel reality and elements of Avatar (2009). A soldier’s injured body is kept alive and his brain is hooked up to an experimental computer program called the ‘Source Code’ used by the military to occupy someone else’s body during the last eight minutes of his life to discover a future terrorist bombing threat. The soldier, whose consciousness is being used to change the future, must learn in only eight minutes where the bomb is planted, disarm it and identify the bomber so that a future dirty bomb can be prevented from going off in downtown Chicago.

I saw this film just after Bin Laden had been killed so the topic of terrorism seemed very timely. There is a surprise ending which took me a little while to figure out what had happened but the ending is very satisfying. There is enough action, humor and surprises to keep the movie moving along and it’s never boring despite the repetition of the eight minutes that Mr. Gyllenhaal is forced to relive over and over while he figures out what is going on.

Jake Gyllenhaal, recently from Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010) and Love and Other Drugs (2010), gives a very convincing performance and keeps us captivated by his character’s, marine captain Colter Stevens, dilemma. We also get an excellent performance by Vera Farmiga, recently from Up in the Air (2009), who plays Colleen Goodwin, the military coach who talks our hero through what he thinks is a training exercise simulation for a new mission.

There are elements in Source Code that are similar to Moon. The movie takes place in very confined spaces, both movies deal with corporate miss use of their employees and there is an unraveling puzzle solving element in both. In fact it was Jake Gyllenhaal who recommended Duncan Jones to direct the film after having seen and loved his earlier work Moon.

Colter Stevens learns more information each time he goes through the ‘source code’, which takes place on a commuter train, so that the events are slightly different each time as he is changing them. The movie is also about making big changes in our lives when we are frustrated by the rut of our daily routine and that we shouldn’t take for granted the beauty and potential that exists all around us.

This movie, like The Adjustment Bureau (2011), has a message but tells it in a very entertaining and sometimes humorous way. Russell Peters, the Canadian comedian, has a small role and most of the cast and crew are Canadian. It will be interesting to see what this promising young director will end up doing next but whatever it is you can be sure it will be another thought provoking Sci-fi action film with heart.


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