by Dante Rosario on April 7th, 2011
The Players: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, and Jeffery Wright.
The Game Plan: Source Code starts off with a confused man (Jake Gyllenhaal) waking up on a commuter train. Despite looking and sounding different, the man is convinced his name is Colter Stevens, and that he’s a military helicopter pilot who was stationed in Iraq, but his acquaintance Christina (Michelle Monaghan) claims his name is Shawn. Shawn and Christina spend the next few minutes trying to piece together the mystery of who he is, and how he got on the train, only to be abruptly interrupted when a bomb explodes killing all the passengers on the train. Suddenly a bewildered Colter, finds himself in a completely different reality where he is told that he is actually part of a special government project, and his mission is to replay the last eight minutes of another man’s life, in order to prevent a bomb from exploding on a Chicago commuter train. After several failed attempts to find the bomber, Colter finds himself growing fond of Christina, and decides that saving her life is just as important as saving the lives of the millions of people who will be killed in Downtown Chicago if he doesn’t complete his mission.
Dante’s Thoughts: This film reminded me of Vantage Point where the same critical moment in time is repeated over and over again from a different perspective. In this case, the plot treats the last eight minutes of brain activity before death like an incandescent light bulb at the moment it is switched off, and all that remains is a few seconds of lingering light, called The Source Code. So each time Jake Gyllenhaal’s character Colter Stevens finds himself on the train with Christina he has eight minutes to unravel the terrorist plot that threatens of a potential mass murderer. It’s sort of like playing a video game…if you die that’s ok, because you get unlimited cracks at it… or enough chances until the next bomb explodes. Naturally, while Colter is trying to find information on the bomb, he takes a liking to his beautiful companion on the train Christina, but hey, Michelle Monaghan is easy on the eyes, and if I had only had eight minutes to live, I wouldn’t mind spending them with her.
Now let’s talk about the acting… The main cast is good; Michelle Monaghan and Jake Gyllenhaal made each replay on the train feel like it was the first time; Vera Farmiga as Colleen Goodwin conveyed the stress and emotional turmoil of the ethically challenged personnel heading up the Source Code program well; and Jeffery Wright was able to shine in his role as the mastermind behind Source Code.
The ending takes a sharp turn away from the direction the storyline seemed to be heading in, and although the plot is interesting, I was never really on the edge of my seat.
Touchdown: Audiences usually like movies with fresh new fictional or real-life ideas that make you think outside of the box. Source Code doesn’t disappoint. It takes a radical fictional concept and turns it into something thoroughly enjoyable.
Penalties: I have to throw a flag against the lukewarm performances given by the supporting cast. It felt like scene after scene of good acting from the main cast mixed in with shabby performances and bad dialogue from everyone else.
The ending could have used a little more polish as well, it seemed more like a hap hazard, no huddle, two minuet drill, that was thrown together in a last ditch attempt to say… “Yes, we’ve come up with something… Colter outsmarts them all.”
End of Game Summary: Source Code is an intriguing thriller with most of the working parts of a good film.