Movie Review: “Source Code”

Written by Josh Litman April 16, 2011

Fun fact: Duncan Jones, the director of Source Code, is the son of star musician David Bowie.

Yep. Now on to the review.

I admit, I haven’t gotten around to Brokeback Mountain yet, but that movie aside, Jake Gyllenhaal gives his best performance yet in Source Code.

Without spoiling too much, Source Code comes off as a cross between Groundhog Day, Quantum Leap, and an old time travel show (that you may or may not have heard of) called 7 Days. Gyllenhaal has to repeatedly jump into another person’s body, in the past, on a train, for eight minutes at a time, before he blows up…over and over again. Yeah, the concept sounds kind of wacky, but it actually works…for the most part.

With a plot like this, repetition/tediousness can become a serious issue if not managed correctly. Thankfully, this aspect is handled rather masterfully, making each “jump” back in time a fresh experience every time.

What sets this film apart from others in its genre is that the sci-fi elements support the drama and not the other way around. Director Duncan Jones previously directed Moon (a great film by the way, if you haven’t seen it yet), and there are clear similarities in the way both films use their sci-fi  premises/gimmicks to highlight real and important facets of the human condition. Coincidentally, both films also focus on kinda-sorta doomed protagonists. web domain . Whoda thunk?

Source Code does a good job humanizing nearly every character encountered, regardless of how little screen time they are given. Even comedian Russell Peters is granted more than just a cameo role (yes, you read that right; Russell Peters is randomly in this movie).

When it comes to science fiction, there are almost always logic/plot holes to be found. Source Code tries to avoid this problem by not fully explaining the logic behind everything that is going on, giving just enough information to make the viewer believe that what’s happening is at least somewhat plausible. This method works to an extent, but it can frustrate viewers who want to know more.

Ultimately, this film is less about time travelling, body-snatching , and peculiar things like that, and more about a man coming to terms with how short life can really be. If you are able to accept that, then you should thoroughly enjoy this film. If not, then you might feel slightly cheated, especially by the ending (or last ‘eight minutes’), which aims to leave the audience with a sense of emotional resolution, rather than a stint of meaningless, hardcore, adrenaline-fuelled, action-packed, explosive diarrhea (see what I did there?).

Duncan Jones: With Moon and now Source Code under your belt, you are 2 for 2 as far as I am concerned. As such, I am looking forward to your next project…so please don’t @#$% it up.

My Rating: 8/10

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About Josh Litman

Josh Litman

Director/producer/writer/actor/editor/cinematographer/musician/neuroscientist… Josh prides himself on being simultaneously awesome and modest. In addition to We Eat Films, Josh also produces his own work (films, writing) under the banner of Action Potential Productions and has his own website, too, where his handiwork can be viewed: www.actionpp.com -- or www.joshlitman.com (if you prefer).

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