Source Code (2011)
What would you do if you had only 8 minutes left to live? What would you do if you had 8 minutes left to live… ten times? Source Code is the government’s latest invention for intervention. Military pilot Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up one day on a train, in a body that is not his own and sitting across from an attractive woman who apparently knows him. The last thing he remembers is flying over Afghanistan. 8 minutes later, the train blows up.
He doesn’t die, though. He winds up in a small isolation chamber – being awoken by a woman’s voice. Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga), after issuing some basic memory tests, explains that he is part of a government operation and that his experience on the train is nothing but a simulation called source code. Earlier that day, a bomb exploded on the train, and Colter’s mission is to locate the bomb and the bomber to prevent a subsequent terrorist attack later that afternoon that would wipe out the entire population of Chicago. Every time he lands in the same place with 8 minutes to find out more information about the attack, as well as more information about himself.
Phew! That was an intense summary. Don’t worry about it. I applaud Duncan Jones for repeating an 8 minute situation ten timesish and have it STILL be original and legit. We can’t always have Bill Murray to entertain us every single repeated Groundhog Day. I was never once bored. It’s fast-paced, exciting, but insightful and deep, too. I loved the trippiness of it, the question of how much saving he can actually do without being limited to changing the future only.
It also manages to throw in some great character development without being overbearingly mushy or distracting from the excitement. Colter Stevens can’t remember what happened to him, he doesn’t know how he wound up in the Source Code, he hasn’t even made amends with his father since before he went to war. Apparently he’s on a mission, but he doesn’t know at all what’s up. On another note, I never thought I could hear the phrase “everything’s going to be okay” as many times as Colter said it without tasting the oozing cheese. But it works as an emotional backbone to the thrill.
Even with movies like Inception out and popular, this is still a great, original story and gives thrillers a good name again. It’s also a great mysery, though I’ll admit I wasn’t too surprised with every twist and turn, save the ending of course. But that doesn’t mean it’s worthless – in fact if I can compare it to Unknown, which I recently saw as well, it doesn’t make the same mistake of trying to confuse the audience TOO much for the sake of being confusing. In that regard, the suspenseful plot and theme are perfect. Then again, I could watch these cerebral fantasies all day. I love Minority Report, Inception and The Matrix. I love this. I knew that I was onboard the second Jake Gyllenhaal looked at himself in the mirror and saw another guy looking back at him, then confusedly looking through his wallet to find an alternate identity in a History teacher named Sean. [And yes, for the record, Inception is definitely my go-to comparison these days. Man do I love that movie. I promise to review it soon. Anyway.]
I warn you, there are questions. Who’s Sean? Who’s Christina for that matter? (the attractive girl sitting across from him – played by Michelle Monaghan). What’s he doing, when is this happening, what is going on… Just don’t worry about the science. Suspend your disbelief. Love the ride. I adored the almost end – Colter pays off a comedian to lighten up everyone’s faces right before they die for the last time. Perfect touch.
Jake Gyllenhaal is really good as our leading man (oh the charmer he is), as well as the supporting cast. I particularly enjoyed Vera Farmiga’s performance, though Michelle Monaghan, and Jeffrey Wright are also good. But I’m applauding Duncan Jones more than anyone. I’ll get around to seeing Moon one of these days, I’m definitely a fan. The editing is also excellent.
It’s like a video game on steroids. This intellectual thriller is worth full price, folks. 8/10