I'm still relatively shocked that this movie has nothing to do with a Philip K. Dick story. But with it being one of my most anticipated of the year, I had to check it out sooner rather than later. Of course, the outstanding reviews coming in as of late didn't hurt, either. Source Code tells us the story of Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal), a soldier who somehow finds himself in the middle of a new government program run by Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright) and Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga). He's involved with the titular source code, which puts him in the position of a man named Sean Fentress. Sean was on a train with a young woman named Christina (Michelle Monaghan)... at least until it blew up. Now Colter, through the persona of Sean, must figure out who the bomber is so that he can help stop another, bigger attack that the bomber plans on committing later that day. The problem is... he only has 8-minute intervals in which to find clues and figure things out.

This is a great little sci-fi thriller from director Duncan Jones, following up on his critically acclaimed Moon. And, in fact, I actually enjoyed this more than Moon. Despite the fact you know Colter cannot die within the source code, you're still kept in suspense. Along with Colter, you're trying to figure out the mystery. The film actually keeps you guessing, wondering which of the passengers it could be. And yes, they even tackle racial profiling in the film. Whereas in Moon where there really isn't much of a twist, as the film all but gives it away in the trailer, there are a couple little twists and turns in this film that I found were done really well and difficult to figure out prior to any reveal--mostly because the film pulls you in different directions and doesn't give you much time to think too much.

The acting is also done very well. I was never really like "Oh, this is Jake Gyllenhaal." He absorbed me in with his character, and I believed he was Colter Stevens. You were just as confused as him in the beginning, as disheartened as him in the middle, and as desperate as him at the end. Vera Farmiga does well as the orders-bound officer who wants to help more, but is restricted by Dr. Rutledge's commands. Jeffrey Wright himself isn't too imposing, but he keeps an air of superiority due to his knowledge on the source code. And then there's Michelle Monaghan, who has to walk a fine balance between sweet and confused, depending on the scenario. And I think she walks it well.

We're also taken into some deeper territory in the latter half of the film, particularly closer to the end. We're given questions that touch on morality, patriotism, and life--usually pertaining to "what would you do..." or "what if..." scenarios. The latter is where the themes are the strongest and work the best. The other two aren't explored all that deeply, though that doesn't hurt the film. I think scaling back a bit and not exploring them too much helped make things from going into "preachy" territory.

There were only a couple things that bothered me about the film, but I'm wary of talking about them without spoiling things. I'll just say most things about the capsule were eventually brought into question, as a lot of things weren't really explained (I mean, there was an explanation, but not one that totally satisfied me). For instance, what was the relevance of the handle on the floor that he tries to get open a couple times? And the "freezing" segment near the beginning is still making me question things.

But overall, the film was a lot of fun. If you're up for a really good sci-fi thriller, check this out. I didn't find the mysteries of the film all too obvious, nor did I think the repetition of going back to the same 8 minutes boring--everything was kept fresh. The themes are deep but not too deep to muddle the film, and the action is frequent but not too overwhelming to make it mindless. There was a good balance. So good job, Duncan Jones. I anticipate your next sci-fi film and hope it's just as good.

A Keanu 'Whoa'


  1. I'm a bit shocked by the high grades this has received. I have yet to settle on my full opinion of it, but I think in the end I can't recommend it. There's too much about it that bothered/bothers me (much having to do with the final 15 minutes) and I never felt all that engaged in it. Two things didn't help: I solved the mystery pretty easily (at least in terms of saying "that's who dun it!") and the derivative nature of it. All I could do was put the pieces of all these other films...12 Monkeys, Groundhog Day, The Matrix, etc.

    The performances did hold together what is there, and it was terrifically made, for what that is worth.

  2. I actually figured you'd have a problem with the ending.

    But I'm just waiting for you to start going around saying "bah humbug" with all the movie-hatin' you've been doing lately :P

  3. I liked Limitless. And gave Adj Bureau 3 stars. So there.

    I'd probably still give this 3 stars, to be honest. But just barely. Whatcha think about discussing this one two weeks from now on the show?

  4. I'm planning on seeing this very soon, especially since I've heard/read good things about it. Although I have to admit, I'm sick and tired of Jake Gyllenhaal trying to be a tough guy/soldier/action hero.

  5. A well-paced and structured sci-fi thriller that's as complex as it is clear-headed. Also, Gyllenhaal shows again why exactly he really is one of the better leading men out there, and proves he still has that charm. Good review, check out mine when you can!

  6. I finally saw this past weekend & I liked it, too. I'm not into deeply analyzing my entertainment like you guys are, but it drew me in, it held my attention, and it made me think. I would recommend any film that could accomplish that!


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