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Source Code: Intelligent and captivating mind bend

Director: Duncan Jones
Screenplay: Ben Ripley
Release Date: April 1, sales 2011
Actors: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright

When I first heard there was a movie called “Source Code” hitting the theatre, I was super excited. As a self acclaimed nerd, the title got me interested right away. Alas, there is no source code to be found in this at all, save a string of “1”s and “0”s scrolling on the screen for about a couple seconds. Once I got over that fact though, what remained was a fairly interesting science fiction thriller that captivated my attention. Going into the film, all that I knew was what the poster and what little I had read. Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays Colter Stevens, is running amidst a bunch of pictures and trying to stop a bomb from happening in order to save an interesting woman from dying. He only has 8 specific minutes to figure out who caused the bomb, and they are 8 minutes he lives over and over again.

Stop reading if you want to be completely surprised by the film, because even when summarized can ruin the wonder of the film. The source code the title refers to is actually a program that somehow grabs the remaining image or halo of an event, converts it to some sort of program and uses brain signals and brain function in order to interface with a reproduction or simulation of that aura. Though one might go into the film thinking that this is purely a thriller – in which the goal is to capture the killer, “Source Code” is so much more and is in fact really, about the character of Colter Stevens.

Colter Stevens is a captain in the army who finds himself dreaming and quickly wakes up to discover that he is on a moving train heading to Chicago. A passenger walks by and spills a cup of coffee on his shoe. A very pretty woman (Michelle Monaghan) who apparently knows him starts off saying that “she did it”, whatever that may mean. He quickly realizes that he is not Colter Stevens and is in fact using the body of Sean Fentress. After observing a few interactions on the train, confused, his woman friend comes to find him and asks him what is wrong. Soon after, the train is engulfed in flames and Colter finds himself, confused, in what appears to be a small vessel. He finds a woman (Vera Farmiga) on a small screen talking to him, trying to pull him back into the world and refreshing his memory. She asks if he found the bomb and whether or not Colter had discovered who the bomber was. After regaining his memory, he is again sent back onto the train as Sean Fentress to complete his mission. Rinse and repeat.

Quite early on, it’s obvious who the bomber is. That’s not the real story “Source Code” aims to tell however, otherwise the bomber would have been someone else. It’s a story of time travel, of regrets, of being able to do things over again if you could if you had the time. It’s the old age question of – what would you do if you knew when you would die and only had a few minutes left to live? As like all time traveling movies, “Source Code” will sure to be brought up when time traveling movies are mentioned, because it left my head spinning a bit with its own ideas of time travel and the information that is passed back and forth through these universes. (Though no where near the complexity of “Primer”, which left me with a headache.) Though in the same vein, “Source Code” could also be compared to “Last Night”, in the sense that the characters in “Last Night” were being faced with an apocalypse and had to decide what they wanted to do in the last hours of their life. “Source Code” wraps a mystery and time ticking thriller around this idea, but down to minute seconds in the story of Colter Stevens.

By the same director that brought us the brilliantly devised “Moon” (Duncan Jones), “Source Code” is decidedly different. One would think 8 minutes being played out over and over again would quickly get boring, but each 8 minutes seem fresh and new. Jake Gyllenhaal is convincing as the man on a mission, confused, wanting to find a way to communicate with his father as well as finding peace and a purpose in his life by saving those people on the train. It is the human aspect to “Source Code” which makes it succeed and atypical from other sci-fi thrillers (as much as I enjoy those as well) and the ending is palatable and satisfying enough without being shoved down our throat. However, I never for a moment believe that what happens in “Source Code” is possible, at least not yet. Some ideas I can somewhat comprehend. The ideas of lasting imprints and halos are far beyond my comprehension but probably do somehow exist in physics. Add in the ending and what you thought was possible in previous time bending movies make it difficult to wrap one’s head around the new concept of time travel, parallel universes, and branching all rolled into one.

For the most part, I really enjoyed the journey and the film. I continue to recall the information given throughout the film to try and make sense of the ending. In the end, it’s just a film, and should be entertaining viewing to watch over and over again. I’m a sucker for time traveling shows or films, and “Source Code” was done really well, that I highly recommend it as viewing for all lovers of science fiction. Plus, any film with an appearance of comedian Russell Peters has my opinion bumped up a notch already!

A thrilling science fiction film that is more substance than fluff and contains at its core a great story and great acting. Recommended for all sci-fi buffs and those that like to twist their head around a bit. 4 coffee spills /5 coffee spills

If you liked this film, you might also like: Moon, Memento, Primer, Deja Vu

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