Source CodeWalking out of Source Code I was thinking to myself that this movie is going to be a challenge to write about. It wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t great. It was OK. And, what can you say about an OK movie beyond, “It was OK?”

I guess that’s it. I’m done. My first review for Gutter Magazine. Short and sweet. Thanks folks. The balcony is closed…

Yeah, I figured that wasn’t going to cut it. So, I chewed on it some more. What I discovered was a movie that may not be the next blockbuster and it might be a bit of a patchwork of other material, where the stitching is largely visible, but it does net out to be better than OK. It was well worth that second look.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Captain Colter Stevens, a helicopter pilot that awakes in the middle of an active military program called, “Source Code.” Stevens is confused and finds himself in the body of a Chicago-area rail commuter, Sean Fentress, 8 minutes before a terrorist’s bomb kills everyone on board.

The explosion jolts him awake, now in a curious, dark compartment. Confused again. A screen comes to life and he’s greeted by Carol Goodwin (Vera Farmiga). Stevens is disoriented and not sure where he is or what is happening. Goodwin informs him that the bomb on the train is the first of a series of targets.

While he’s not able to connect the dots between that lead him into the simulation room, the Source Code allows Stevens to live out the last 8 minutes of Fentress’ life in order to find the bomber and prevent further attacks. How, it’s explained away with some high-tech jargon that is sufficient enough to allow you to accept that the premise.

The real strength of Source Code is the way it manages two paralleling mysteries and keeps both pulled pretty tight. Sure, there’s a relationship piece as Stevens falls for fellow commuter Christina (Michelle Monaghan). It’s somewhat hallow and really just acts as reason for Stevens to want to continue diving back into the Source Code.

On the inside, Stevens is frantic to find the bomb and the bomber. He jockeys between a razor sharp investigator and a maniac at the end of his rope. He dissects each passenger—the way they look, they way their acting—in one scenario. In the next, he’s smashing in faces and kicking down doors.

On the outside, he’s trying to figure out the Source Code. The operation is run Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright), an always-present figure looming behind Goodwin. He can’t fully remember how he found his way into the simulation and it is obvious that they aren’t giving him all the answers.

Director Duncan Jones masterfully tugs on each of these threads and you don’t often get a chance to catch your breath. Jones’ previous film was Moon, a fantastic movie staring Sam Rockwell that you should immediately rush out and rent/download/On Demand/put on your queue/do whatever you do to watch a movie. There are certainly a few similarities between the two and when you get to the end of Source Code, probably even more than a few.

Gyllenhaal is buttoned up. It’s been a couple movies (Love and Other Drugs, Prince of Persia) since we’ve seen him burn with similar intensity. It’s a reminder that he is one of better young actors out there today. There’s a lot going on with his character. A lot that is running through his head. Gyllenhaal does a great just of pushing and pulling, dealing with the objective (find the bomber) and his personal crisis (what the hell is happening to me.)

Revisiting Source Code over and over again in my head as I write this out—a process that often erodes any goodwill I might feel toward a movie—is making me like it even more. The stitching in that patchwork has grown less and less visible. Where I previously saw the edges of Moon, Groundhogs Day, Matrix, and a few others, I now only see something that is quite rich, intense, and one white-knuckler of a movie.

I don’t really have a rating system: stars, thumbs, points, etc. My rankings is instead whether you should see it in the theater, at home, wait for it to be on TV, or run away at the mere mention of the title.

I believe Source Code to be worthy of your movie theater money. You’re not going to find anything like it in the theater right now. And, even if there were a menu of thrillers to choose from, this one would surely stand out.

Related posts: