Reviewed by Galen Strickland
Is it just me, or was this released on April 1 for a reason?
I liked this quite a bit. It's the best eight minute movie I've ever seen. Only problem with that is I'm not sure which eight minutes I liked the most, considering the running time is actually an hour and thirty-three minutes. I'll try my best to avoid spoilers here, but even the trailers contain a lot of information that might give away too much. In a nutshell, you could call this one "Groundhog Day meets Deja Vu."
Jake Gyllenhaal plays Captain Colter Stevens, a helicopter pilot who has served multiple times in Afghanistan. Only now he is involved in a unique mission to help stop a terrorist attack on Chicago. He wakes with a start on a commuter train headed for that city, sitting across from a beautiful woman he does not know, and after denying that he is the "Sean" that she is calling him, he goes to the restroom and finds out his reflection is of another man. Several minutes later there is an explosion on the train and Capt. Stevens is suddenly inside a metal capsule, somewhat resembling either a space or underwater vessel or else a sensory-deprivation tank.
Slowly, and with much confusion on his part, it is explained to him that he has been inhabiting the consciousness of a man who had been aboard a train that morning outside Chicago when a bomb exploded, killing everyone aboard. The "Source Code" project posits that if reached in a minimum amount of time, a brain of a deceased person retains residual electrical activity for a finite period, and that the brain normally will have stored a short term memory of its last eight minutes of experience. Each time Stevens is transported back into that man's consciousness, he has eight minutes to observe what is happening on the train in an effort to identify the bomber or discover the location of the bomb so that others can gather information that will lead them to the person who intelligence tells them will also detonate a dirty bomb in Chicago later that day.
Gyllenhaal is the highlight of the film, both in his early confusion, and then later as he understands his mission his military training kicks in and he proves to be a very capable operative for the project. The rest of the cast is good too, only most of their parts and the rest of the narrative is predictable. Vera Farmiga is Captain Goodwin, Stevens' "handler" for lack of a better term. She is his main contact, but only through electronic means, voice and video screen. Jeffrey Wright is Dr. Rutledge, developer of the Source Code technology. Michelle Monaghan is Christina, the beautiful woman on the train. That's all you need to know about them because that's about as far as their characters were developed. Too many plot elements were telegraphed ahead of time, but of course I won't mention what those were.
While I did enjoy the movie, it was not as good as I was expecting for the second directorial effort of Duncan Jones, who co-wrote and directed 2009's Moon. If he had written this one I would bet we would not have gotten the predictable Hollywood ending. Sorry, that was probably a spoiler.
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