Source Code Reviews

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Super Reviewer
April 6, 2011
An interesting premise put together nicely by Duncan Jones (Moon). Thats two for two on his movies so far. And Jake Gyllenhaal was excellent, made me completely forget about Prince of Persia.
Super Reviewer
April 25, 2011
In the future not only will we be able to see the film Groundhog Day again, but we'll also be able to live it ... only it'll be the same few minutes, over and over again. Just a little trifle of fun laughing down the dark dark halls of the time travel trope, the dark of the twilight zone. Very good.
Super Reviewer
March 29, 2011
Fun. Groundhog Day + Deja Vu. Can't go wrong with that.
Super Reviewer
½ March 30, 2011
An ex-army pilot finds himself living another man's life and discovers that he is operating within a secret government project where they send a person's consciousness back in time to discover terrorist threats. Duncan Jones' follow up to the pleasingly old school sci-fi Moon is a variation on the idea behind La Jetee, the short that inspired Twelve Monkeys. Basically it's Groundhog Day done as thriller instead of comedy as Jake Gyllenhaal lives the same eight minutes of a commuter's life over and over until he discovers the identity of the bomber who blew up the train he was travelling on. The concept will be familiar to those old enough to remember 90s tea-time sci fi show Quantum Leap and it also shares ingredients with films such as Robocop and Total Recall. To be honest, take away the sci-fi twist and it's executed very like many other Hollywood action thrillers but it has enough invention and charm to raise it above its main competition (namely Next and Deja Vu) thanks to some likeable characters and interesting visuals. It feels a lot more run of the mill and predictable than Moon but anyone who found Inception a little too dense for their taste, it's a more easily digestible, bite-size alternative.
Super Reviewer
½ November 7, 2012
Preposterous but considerably entertaining whodunit with hitchcockian overtones. Mostly ruined by its accommodative ending.
Market Man
Super Reviewer
½ October 20, 2012
Aside from all the rather confusing quantum mechanics (or time travel? I don't know!) "Source Code" is thrilling and emotional. The protagonist has depth and is someone that we care about. This film isn't quite as good as "Moon" in my opinion, but is nonetheless a worthy addition to the sci-fi genre.

As for the ending, it's interesting and can definitely be left up for interpretation. I'm not sure if it entirely works and there are many different viewpoints on what exactly happens. This is where we get into parallel universes and all that, so good luck.
Daniel Mumby
Super Reviewer
½ April 11, 2011
Low-budget filmmaking has one big drawback: you become so used to creating so much with so little, that when someone offers you a lot more money, you panic and lose all your marbles. So many promising, talented filmmakers, who earned critical acclaim through their Spartan early efforts, have come a cropper the second the budget started to creep up. It takes a truly great filmmaker to hold his or her nerve when Hollywood beckons - and one such filmmaker is Duncan Jones.

Consider the evidence. Source Code, Jones' second feature film, has a budget of $32m - just over 6 times the budget of Moon three years ago, without adjusting for inflation. Obviously with more money involved and access to the latest special effects, you would expect a more mainstream effort. But Source Code is every bit as gripping, intelligent and distinctive as his debut - and that should warm the cockles of anybody's heart.

Source Code could be pithily described as Moon's mainstream cousin, since the two films have a number of similarities in terms of subject and execution. Quite apart from both having their roots firmly in the smart end of science fiction, they both have prominent elements of conspiracy, rooted around individuals being unknowingly exploited by their governments.

More importantly, both Moon and Source Code manage to address complex abstract issue of morality, truth, duty and reality while remaining intimate and human. In a genre which is often characterised as being cold and clinical, Jones gives us a series of believable, well-rounded and intelligent characters which seem compelling even if we know that what we are seeing is fixed and pre-determined. We enjoy their company as our brains race around, frantically looking for answers to the various riddles the film offers us.

Just as Moon looked back to the likes of Solaris, Soylent Green and Silent Running, so Source Code refers back to a number of previous works within science fiction. Apart from its superficial resemblance to Groundhog Day and Déja Vu, the film owes a large debt to Terry Gilliam's Twelve Monkeys. Both Cole and Colter Stevens are characters who are sent to the past (in a sense) to prevent a future disaster - and both eventually rebel against their mission and choose to remain in the doomed reality.

There are also fleeting comparisons with The Jacket and Jacob's Ladder, which deal with the idea of a mentally ill soldier wrestling with demons which may be the product of his imagination. But Source Code departs from this sub-genre by focussing less on the nature of the fantasy and more on the ethics behind the source code itself. It is less about what happens during those eight minutes, as to what is causing those eight minutes to occur and for what purpose.

The conspiracy elements in Source Code address strong ethical issues while tapping into public anxiety and suspicion over Western involvement in the Middle East. Central to this is the idea that soldiers' semi-functional brain matter could be used in government operations after their death, a practice sanctioned by military courts but over which the soldiers themselves would have no say. The film addresses the idea of soldiers being drilled to obey even in death, taking the deconstruction of the 'grunts' from Full Metal Jacket and bringing it into the 21st century.

As with Moon, Source Code explores the idea of manipulating human lives for political gain. The difference is that this manipulation is now occurring on both sides, with both the bomber and the US government going to extremes to achieve their respective goals. When Stevens finds and confronts the bomber, he says that "we have a chance to rebuild from the rubble - but you need rubble to start with". This is echoed in Stevens' own predicament: in order for the source code to work as a weapon against terrorism, it needs a small number of mentally special cases which have come about through the war on terror.

Source Code is also about the fragmentation of identity, and particularly the role of the mind in creating or assigning identity. On a basic level, the film explores what it would be like to be somebody else for a short period of time. During his eight-minute periods as Sean Fentriss, Stevens re-evaluates the world around him, and finds a way to come to terms with who he is as he discovers what really happened in Afghanistan. Towards the end of the film there is a heart-breaking sequence of Stevens (as Fentriss) calling his real-life father and apologising on his own behalf.

But this exploration of identity is not confined to the events within the train. As we spend more time inside the source code, the film raises the question of whether identity is determined by the mind or self, or whether it is the product of how others perceive you. In his mind, Colter Stevens knows he is an ex-soldier, but the more time he spends in the source code, the more the two personalities begin to intersect until we don't entirely know where Stevens ends and Fentriss begins.

This line of questioning is brought to a chilling conclusion by the final revelations about Stevens' mental state. But even before we get there, Source Code does a great job of throwing us off course with its various twists. Ben Ripley's script plants subtle little doubts about the safety of the source code - like Stevens commenting on hydraulic fluid leaking out, or how cold the chamber is becoming. As its emerges that what he is seeing is largely a projection, we are thrown into a maelstrom of doubts about what is real, leading us to cling to the character as he stumbles blindly through the darkness.

Source Code is also technically accomplished, both in its shooting style and its approach to the time loop storyline. Going back to the same eight minutes over and over could quickly become tedious, but Jones never lets that happen, using a variety of creative decisions to keep us interested. The first time around, everything is played straight for tension, so that the bombing comes as a complete surprise. But gradually more comedy is introduced to defuse the tension, such as Stevens' ribbing with the comedian or predicting what Michelle Monaghan is going to say. By the time he is hunting for the bomber, Jones scrolls through the time rapidly until it becomes necessary to slow down and take in a twist.

The only flaw with Source Code is its ending. As with the so-called 'happy' ending in Brazil, you can understand the reasons for doing it, and it adds up to some extent mechanically - for instance, the recurring images of the mirror sculpture being finally explained. But you still come away feeling like the film would have been more emotionally and intellectually satisfying had it ended in the freeze-frame on the train. And that's not to mention the alternate time line, which shows source code yet to be used - again, it works, but it isn't necessary.

Despite its ending, Source Code is a really great sci-fi thriller and one of the best films of 2011. Jones demonstrates his intelligence and visual flare as a director, wringing every last drop of emotion and nuance out of what could be a preposterous premise. Jake Gyllenhaal gives his best performance since Donnie Darko in the lead, and is supported by strong turns from Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright. It will take many more films before Jones begins to challenge Christopher Nolan for the mantle of Britain's best living filmmaker. But on the basis of this, he's well on his way.
Super Reviewer
January 11, 2012
It's a kind of movie where being repetetive is a good thing. Let's be honest, how often can a movie have that right? Source Code follows Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his attempt to thwart a bombing on a Chicago train. The twist is he does it by switching into a body of one of the passengers and has 8 minutes to find the bomber before the bomb detonates and he is back into his own body. Failing means he has to go back into the man's body again and again until he finds the bomber. The whole sending people into other peoples bodies is a government program call Source Code. I really liked how the movie was complex, but it was grounded as well. The movie knew that going overboard with the whole switching bodies thing ruins the movie so the writers decided to keep it simple. Also, I was worried the movie might get repetetive since we get to watch the same 8 minutes loop over, but it didn't, every time Stevens goes back something new happens. (Apart from the train blowing up and Michelle Monaghan make the "Scream" face.) Another really fun part about the movie is seeing Stevens trying to solve the whole thing. The way it all plays out makes the audience as invested in finding out who the bomber is as much as Stevens is. Also given the situations, Stevens ends up guessing wrong on who the bomber is a lot and he'll make a jackass of himself. (He's just socially awkward like that.) The acting in the film is really good too. Gyllenhall was great, Monaghan was good, cool and cute, Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright do really good in their roles as well. I swear, this movie has you looking all over the place for the bomber. Sometimes you'll be like "Oh, he's the bomber. Whoops no he's not, but maybe he is! Nope, not him, but it could be her! Oh, nope, wrong again." The movie just plays with you. The ending of the movie is also just a total dismembering of the mind. It's confusing, but it also makes sense. Thinking power is required to comprehend the end which means a lot of kids at my school probably won't understand it. The movie has often been compared to movies like Groundhog Day and Total Recall, but Source Code is its own movie and deserves to be recognized as a well thought out and perfectly executed movie.
Super Reviewer
½ May 19, 2012
Alternate reality type films have always been an interest of mine, so this film is a natural for me. You have this Phillip K. Dick type story where via computer a man can access the collective last thoughts of a group of people. The setup is that an air force pilot is sent into the last 8 minutes of the collective thoughts of the passengers on a train who are eventually killed by a terrorist bomb. The pilot must hunt for clues to determine who set the bomb and why - as it is rumored that another bomb will be set off that will kill thousands. So you have a race against the clock - in both the real world, and the world that the pilot reinhabits.

Along the way he (Jake Gyllenhaal by the way, who is pretty solid here) is drawn into conversation with the woman seated across from him - and is taken by her... even though she only exists in this 8 minute alternate reality... or is it?

The grand thesis, and one I've often considered is that, like truth, reality is subjective. A person in a coma may be having a grand time, having created an alternate universe to exist in since he cannot function in the "real" one.

The film is taught and fairly straight forward, though could use a bit more science in its approach (and I thought that the character of the scientist to be a bit wooden and at the same time over the top in his rather "mad scientist" routine). There are also moments where the film seems to disconnect from reality (whichever one you choose to be in at the time) - the people inhabiting the train often seem in stasis until Jake interacts with them - which would be correct in a computer generated model - but is a bit disconcerting and off putting nonetheless.

The film doesn't have quite the impact or depth of Inception or The Matrix (both films exploring alternate realities), but is passing fair entertainment - held back only by its own premises - that what happens on the train doesn't matter, for it isn't real.
Super Reviewer
April 5, 2011
"Source Code" is a very enjoyable movie that takes its turns in creative directions. This movie encourages the audience to ponder about what the next situation will turn out. Great and entertaining movie. Simply a popcorn thriller.
Super Reviewer
March 28, 2011
Plot holes can quickly be forgotten by Source Code's fast pace and slick style. Screenwriter Ben Ripley and director Duncan Jones do a great job here giving us an intriguing, complex storyline and Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan and Vera Farmiga give powerful human performances. I think Source Code may require more than one viewing to fully grasp the complicated science behind the plot but it's short, brisk runtime helps keep the film compact, and from going off topic which could have made it more complicated than necessary. Overall, Source Code is a mostly satisfying, well-acted, stylishly done science fiction thriller with an unusually complex and human story.
Super Reviewer
½ March 19, 2011
"SOURCE CODE" is a phenomenal film. It's high concept sci-fi at it's finest and as of this review; far and away the best film I've seen in 2011. The film's two greatest achievements are the kaleidoscope of emotion it thrusts the viewer into and how multilayered and spiritually complex the film is right below the surface (of what appears to be an action-laden "Groundhog's Day"). That's not even mentioning the essential Jake Gyllenhaal performance that holds it all together, the terrific supporting cast, the naturalistic and pitch-perfect direction, the explosive action sequences, and the heart and humor that are so essential. There will definitely be back and forth between those in favor and not in favor of the conclusion, but I thought it was beautiful and hit all the right notes. This is a perfect filmgoing experience. "Source Code" is a film that I'm going to be thinking about for a long time and is worthy of nothing but the highest praise.
Super Reviewer
April 3, 2011
i absolutely loved everything about this film until the very end, when the whole thing fell a part for me. the explanations in the film of how the source code works were actually semi-convincing, and the stakes for the characters were sad but refreshingly sacrificial. all of this is thrown out the window in the final minutes when we see that things arent what they seem, but in all the wrong ways. most movies should have happy endings, but this one was far too forced. other than the end, the film was tightly constructed, and its rare that a sci-fi film like this has such great human sub plots. good, but would have been great were it cut about 5 minutes short.
Super Reviewer
½ January 1, 2012
If you liked Deja Vu or Timecop you will like this movie. A soldier wakes up in a strange capsule. He is part of a mission to stop a bomb on a commuter train. He is sent back in time in another man's body to discover clues and stop the bomber. Good cast.
paul o.
Super Reviewer
½ November 20, 2011
An action packed step away from "Moon", Duncan Jones visualizes difficult material with the help Gyllenhaal and Farmiga. An entertaining view for people of all ages!
Super Reviewer
½ March 27, 2011
'Source Code' is possibly the most bang-up science fiction film of the century. There isn't a dull juncture in this action packed extravaganza! I haven't seen a more intriguing film since Shutter Island. Tree have been quite a lot of comparisons to 'Inception', including people distinguishing this as a "rip off" of it. I highly disagree with that false statement because one of the best aspects of this was how wholly original it was. This movie is full of great tilts, turn, and twists that you will never see coming. The acting is powerful, the story is mind bending, the romance is sizzling, and the action is breathtaking. This is by far one of the finest films of 2011 and one of the best movies I've ever seen. The characters are incredibly real and believable, making it comfortable getting to know during the course of the film. Jake Gyllenhaal is at his absolute best as the main character Captain Colter Stevens. Gyllenhaal gives an achingly real, emotional, and exquisite performance that is ultimately gripping with enough thrill to administer an effective character. Acclaimed director Duncan Jones, director of the critically successful 'Moon' proves that he is a director to track, which leads me to being esthetic as I wonder what his next project will be. Jones has a unique trait of authenticity that harbors his talented career which is exactly the type of delicacy handled with this film as he makes absolutely terrific shots and the delivery of his brilliant screenplay from the actors prove to be simply magnificent. Even though I have made it out to be a super-smashed action masterpiece, there are some moments of wit that I really appreciated. The most memorable and wittiest sequence of the film would have to be Jake's last eight minutes in the source code, in which he tells everyone to "be careful" (ie. the woman who always spills coffee on his shoe). The reason I found that so humorous was Jake's comfortability with these "people" who meant nothing to him until a few hours back, which was wonderfully done. I have one concrete complaint pertaining to this great film, and that is the fact that the running time was unbelievably short and I believe if the production crew decided to allow the film to be released with a bit more running time, it could have included more mystery and suspense, making it an even more mystery induced film than it already is. Having said that, this is a very complicated film to understand, but increases the replay value greatly (I've seen it 10+ times myself, and still find it wildly entertaining) and if 'X-Men: First Class' wasn't so damn fantastic, this would've been my number one favorite film of 2011. 'Source Code' is a film that breaks all the regular film rules that include countless cliches and produces something new and exciting that will be a delight to audiences around the world.
Super Reviewer
½ November 5, 2011
interesting sci-fi movie, confused me during the sci-fi-action-romantic events, especially at the end of it
a good concept to make a movie out of it,.. I like it
Super Reviewer
October 27, 2011
complication, diversity, and action, the only three words I can associate with this film, Jake doesn't fail to impress, and leaves a impression, that this maybe the technology of the future? Damn well hope not, i'm not repeating past *experiences*
Super Reviewer
October 17, 2011
This entertained me. It made my friends mad. So if you're fixin' for a fight, this might be a good one to watch in a group.
The Gandiman
Super Reviewer
October 16, 2011
Sci-fi films tend to use some fantastical scientific or technological device to either make a point about society while greatly entertaining audiences with "wow that's cool" possibilities. In the case of the fast paced and adrenalin-pumped "Source Code" filmmakers use an innovative premise - the ability of a User to experience the last eight minutes of a person's life within an alternate timeline to help avoid a catastrophic nuclear attack (the Source Code) - to make a comment about the human condition.

Superbly directed by Duncan Jones, "Source Code" doesn't waste any time; the film immediately propels you into the action from its first few seconds where we meet Army Captain Colter Stephens occupying the body and mind of Sean Fentriss (played with splendid exasperation and urgency by Jake Gyllenhaal). We figure out his situation real time with him as he begins to leap in and out of the Source Code attempting to not only complete his mission and find the train's bomber but also reconcile what's happened with his life.

"Source Code" does well with its potentially complex premise, Ben Ripley's screenplay sequences events in a way that doesn't rely on cheap twists. The only downfall is that other than Gyllenhaal's Stephens and Vera Farmiga's Colleen Goodwin, the rest of the characters are forgettably stock. The train's passengers are dull stereotypes that fail to make much of an impression.

But overall "Source Code" is an intelligent sci-fi thriller that captivates without preaching; well worth watching on the edge of your seat.
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