Movie Review: Source Code (2011)
“Make every second count”
Source Code (2011)
Director: Duncan Jones
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga
Synopsis: A soldier who keeps awakening in the body of a stranger every 8 minutes searches for the killer planning to explode the train on which he is traveling.
We’ve all wished we could go back in time to put right something that we feel was left undone, whether it’s to issue that snappy retort we think of half an hour after it’s called for or something more significant, like altering that one moment that could have changed our life forever. Well, that’s what Coulter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal – October Sky, Prisoners) gets to do over and over again as he’s zapped into the body of an unassuming teacher in order to attempt to identify the mad bomber aboard a packed passenger train to Chicago in the eight minutes leading up to the explosion.
Stevens is part of a military experiment and the drawback is that he’s technically dead with only minor brain activity going on in what’s left of his body. We don’t find out about this immediately, which is one thing that sets Source Code apart from similar sci-fi tales. Many films would simply have the hunt for the bomber and Stevens’ developing relationship with his travelling companion as its main focus, but this one throws in a mystery surrounding Stevens’ location whenever he returns from his jaunts on the train – some kind of pod – that slowly overtakes the bombing sub-plot as the main strand of the film. While this definitely adds to the depth of the storyline it’s really just there to disguise the fact that the whole bomb-on-a-train bit is a little bit old, a little bit ludicrous, and a little by the numbers.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays the part of Coulter Stevens. He’s OK, and seems to slowly be shedding that nervous, almost apologetic expression that seemed to be a permanent feature. All the other roles are secondary, giving none of the actors much to play with. The science of it all wanders off into the kind of techno-babble which sounds both improbable and deliberately designed to confuse us so we don’t ask too many awkward questions. It doesn’t really detract from the enjoyment of the film – but it still doesn’t tell us how the comatose Stevens can see Vera Farmiga (The Departed, The Conjuring) via the web-cam on her console…
(Reviewed 4th November 2011)