Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

One minute you’re flying death dealing missions in Afghanistan, then the next minute you wake up on a commuter train in Chicago looking at the impossibly cute Christina played by the impossibly cute Michelle Monaghan. She keeps calling you Sean, but your name is Colter (Jake Gyllenhaal). You see a strange reflection, you run into the bathroom and that cat in the mirror looks nothing like you, you freak out, the trains blows up. This all takes place in the span of eight minutes. Shortest movie ever. But not so fast my friends because Capt. Colter Stevens is caught up in the ‘Source Code’… whatever that is…

After this train blows up Colter is electrically transported back into some kind of containment pod and he is a little disoriented. He has no idea what has just happened, he has no idea where he is, he has no idea why he’s not in Afghanistan and he doesn’t know who the lady is on the computer monitor in front of him. Lt. Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) is shooting Colter a series of tests to allow him to get his brain unscrambled and eventually he comes around. It is explained to him that he was sent back to the immediate past. Just hours ago a Chicago commuter train has exploded and he needs to find the bomb and unearth the bomber. This is his mission and while none of this is making any kind of sense to Colter he is zapped back and he has another eight minutes to figure this thing out.

Same deal, pretty girl sitting across the way, a few things change but not many, he’s a little more lucid, but not much. He uncovers a little more information but not enough. He gets to watch Christina the pretty girl die again.

At this point Colter needs answers. Lt. Goodwin advises him that with each passing minute their opportunity to complete this mission wanes, but whatever… There’s a strange anti-social scientific looking dude floating around in the background, Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright), who looks to be in charge but he’s not very good with things that don’t involve scientific equations. And back Colter goes to relive those horrific eight minutes over again.

Watching the hottie die over and over again is getting a little old so Colter tries to save her, but the Source Code doesn’t work that way. It’s not a time machine but an alternate reality machine. Or something. In short what has happened has happened and can’t be changed, they just need to find out who did it so they can stop it from happening again. Just do your job Colter, stop trying to save Hot Chicks who can’t be saved and stop wasting your eight minutes on tangential personal fact finding missions.

Colter isn’t hearing any of that. Sure these cats in the control room have Quantum Theoretical PhD’s and all, but they have no idea how good looking Christina is and how the world would be a better place if she’s not incinerated. Colter has a lot on his plate right now, and he still doesn’t know the entire truth.

So… I complain and I whine and I bitch and I complain some more that the Hollywood Movie Machine needs to make more original movies. Chill on the endless sequels, relax on the remakes of foreign movies, stop remaking older American movies and just give the 50.6 million Americans sitting in studio apartments writing original screenplays a chance. ‘Source Code’, written by Ben Ripley and directed by Duncan Jones, who also directed the spectacular and oddly similar sci-fi film ‘Moon’ is a good movie. Its original… kind of… in a way… and it wasn’t even based on an existing novel. Jake Gyllenaal is a fine leading man, Michelle Monaghan and Vera Farmiga are both fantastic looking actresses who can also act… that’s a bonus… and Jeffrey Wright is on board as the ‘serious acting guy’. Jones takes a potentially repetitive scenario and manages to make it seem fresh every time we are sent back for these eight minutes, it’s exciting, it moves and we enjoyed ourselves.

But did enough of you out there actually go see this movie? I know the theater I saw ‘Source Code’ at was empty but I think the production costs might’ve been low enough to generate some kind of profit, which is a good thing, but it’s probably not enough. Regardless, some studio executive somewhere is rubbing me on my virtual shoulder, holding up ‘Source Code’ as an example as to why they balk at producing original films because the movie going audience, that would be us, seem to avoid those films. I stand corrected and I will stop whining because despite my complaints I am well aware that this thing is a business first, second and third. Oh well.

But back to the movie itself, the only thing I’m not too sure about is the way that it ended. The science behind sending Colter back in the past for eight minutes is a little wacky, obviously, but it is consistent which is the key to movies with invented scientific theories. But the end loses a little of that consistency which in turn makes you ponder on the fake science, which is something I’m thinking you don’t want the audience to do in regards to the fake science. It’s fake. I believe this was done to generate some kind of happy ending but it was a little shaky.

But ‘Source Code’ was a very entertaining movie. One that probably wasn’t successful enough to justify its existence. I will now shut my yap and settle into sequels, remakes, and old TV shows turned into movies. Sorry you 50.6 million Americans struggling in studio apartments trying to write original screenplays. It’s over. We’ve lost.

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