POSTED BY MICHAEL A. SMITH, March 31, 2011 Share
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan and Vera Farmiga
Directed by: Duncan Jones
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hours 33 minutes
As his commuter train heads towards Chicago, Army officer Colter Stevens (Gyllenhaal) finds himself being addressed by an unknown but beautiful woman. She seems to know him but he’s puzzled by one thing: why does she keep calling him Sean? Unnerved he gets up and begins making his way through the compartment. Where is he? And why is he here?
A well crafted thriller with one hell of an original story, “Source Code” is the second feature from director Duncan Jones – allow me to take this moment to make the obligatory mention that Jones is the son of David Bowie – whose debut movie, “Moon,” was a favorite of film critics in 2009. Here, Jones builds on the promise of his freshman effort, crafting a story that could easily unravel in lesser hands.
“Source Code” is best described by one of the film’s characters as “not time travel but time reassignment.” A terrorist has threatened to set off a “dirty bomb” in Chicago and authorities know that he was on the aforementioned train. The government now has a way to send a subject to a certain place in time and allow them to observe eight minutes of whatever is happening. The hope is that Colter can use the time allotted to find out who the bomber is. The highlight of the experiment is that, should he fail to identify the bomber the first time, he can keep going back and keep searching, eight minutes at a time. However, when he does, routine things he observes on one trip repeat themselves in subsequent ones. Think of it as a combination of “Groundhog Day” and “Die Hard 2.”
As with “Moon,” Jones has assembled a top notch cast. Gyllenhaal easily gives his best performance since “Brokeback Mountain,” and Monaghan is a delight as the unknown woman who Colter grows attracted to with each return trip. Farmiga is strong as the mysterious airman who sends Colter on his missions as is Jeffrey Wright, who leads the “Source Code” experiment. The script, by first time screenwriter Ben Ripley, is strong, giving even the most minor of passengers on the train a reason to be there. Extra points for some very well done special effects and a powerful score by Chris Bacon, graduating from kids films (“Alpha and Omega,” “Gnomeo and Juliet”) to the big time here.
A film that will keep you guessing until the last frame, on a scale of zero to five I give “Source Code” ****.
This Week's Movie Review of "Source Code" is ©2011 by Mike Smith. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2011 by Nolan B. Canova.
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