Source Code Movie Review
When is the past really the present? When is death not really death? What if you could change the past? From the director of the much overlooked sci-fi film Moon comes Source Code, a new thriller that seeks to answer these questions. Source Code is also one of the most original movies of 2011.
In Source Code, Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Captain Colter Stevens, who wakes up on a train to discover he's inhabiting another man's body. Eight minutes later, the train explodes. When he awakes again, he learns he's part of a secret government program that can send him into the last eight minutes of a person's life. It's his mission to learn who the bomber is to prevent a much more devastating attack in the near future.
Source Code works with a similar premise to the Tony Scott action-thriller Déjà vu, but that's where the similarities end. The identity of the terrorist is only half the battle; the truth about how Stevens became involved with the program is just as if not more important. As he continues to go back to the train, he also begins to develop a relationship with the woman sitting across from him (Michelle Monaghan).
In other words, Source Code is a uniquely complex thriller. Can't say that too often.
The movie is well written and elaborate. It keeps you guessing and is legitimately unpredictable. It also presents a variety of turns and developments not shown in the previews.
Gyllenhaal is excellent in the lead. Though Monaghan is important and does a fine job, Gyllenhaal carries the picture, bringing with him an energized and emotional performance. He continues to prove he's a versatile lead actor.
Vera Farmiga also turns in a great performance. She takes what could have been a two-dimensional role and takes it to a whole other level.
Source Code isn't without a few small flaws. The bickering between Stevens and his handlers in the first half of the movie gets a bit tedious at times; while it keeps things mysterious, the exchanges don't always feel natural. Furthermore, the discovery and capture of the bomber is abrupt and rushed.
The movie isn't perfect, but Source Code is one of the most refreshing action-thrillers in years. It also stands well as a legitimate sci-fi piece. Highly recommended.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.