Thursday, April 14, 2011

Movie Review - Source Code

Source Code - ***

Directed by:  Duncan Jones

Starring:  Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga

Review:  Science fiction is always a tricky medium.  Towing that line between plausible and, well, science fiction is a tough task.  Some try to reign it in as much as possible and make things as believable as they can while others try to get the viewer to completely suspend all disbelief and just take the science fiction element of the story as what it is, an engine for an intriguing storyline to be told.

‘Source Code’ falls in the latter category.  A storyline where fiction is emphasized more than science.  It’s hard to take this film seriously from a science standpoint but the movie also seems to embrace this fact.  It’s as if the film is completely aware of the absurdity of the premise and doesn’t care.  If you are to create a science fiction story such as this that is almost the only way to go about it.  Don’t let things linger, don’t let the characters question, keep things moving, and everything will fit together.

Captain Coilter Stevens is a fighter pilot that has been flying missions in Afghanistan.  After a mission goes awry he finds himself trapped in some sort of capsule where he only has video communication with Lt. Goodwin who keeps informing him and asking him questions about the mission he doesn’t even know he’s on.  After a few attempts he finally finds out about what is going on.  Stevens is part of a secret military project known as ‘Source Code’ in which they have the ability to allow you to relive the last 8 minutes of somebody’s life through a complicated process involving brainwaves and memories stamped within somebody else’s mind. 

We already discussed how the science is sketchy (at best) so no need to belabor that point any further.  Capt. Stevens finds himself constantly being thrust into the final 8 minutes of this man’s life and is charged with finding a bomb that blew up a train earlier in the day.  The authorities are hearing that another bomb will be set off within the city and they need to find out where so they can stop it.  If Capt. Stevens can figure this out then they can save the lives of a lot of people.

After Capt. Stevens finally accepts the true purpose of his mission he begins to wonder some questions about his time in the source code.  The location and certain events are the same every time he is transported back to the train; yet, they are also slightly different.  Maybe somebody says the same thing but their tone is different, and he reacts to them differently.  This shifts the chain of events on the train and Stevens begins to wonder if he can change the result of that day and save all the people on the train from the impending disaster.

Stevens is made aware that whatever happens in the Source Code does not affect reality and despite how much he might want to help all of these people he cannot change the course of events.  Stevens was robbed of his ability to save his team in real life so it doesn’t matter to him that it won’t affect reality, he still wants to try and save these people.  Stevens exists with an innate desire to help people and if he can’t do it in the real world then he will do it as well as he can in the source code.  Stevens is in a position where he NEEDS to save these people or his life will be unfulfilled. 

There are lots of interesting questions raised in ‘Source Code,’ assuming you can put aside the hokey science.  While the un-believability factor is off the charts the movie is more than entertaining and I would say it’s worth your time.


  1. Jeff-
    Totally agree. I called a buddy (Schultz actually) who's really into this stuff. He was going real in depth- but said every time he went into the "source code" they were creating an entirely new universe (or something to this extent). Still doesn't really explain the ending, but I guess makes a little more sense than my original thoughts of this guy just going back in time and changing something.

  2. Yeah, I think that's the only way I could rationalize anything is that they created an entirely new universe every time he went in to the 'Source Code.' It somewhat makes sense for the ending I guess.

  3. Hey kPg, thanks for reading my review! I read yours and I liked it a lot. You have a good style that flows well and I think we both hit on some of the same points about the film. Thanks again for reading and keep writing those reviews!