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SOURCE CODE (director: Duncan Jones; screenwriter: Ben Ripley; cinematographer: Don Burgess; editor: Paul Hirsch; music: Chris Bacon; cast: Jake Gyllenhaal (Colter Stevens), Michelle Monaghan (Christina Warren), Vera Farmiga (Colleen Goodwin), Jeffrey Wright (Dr. Rutledge), Michael Arden (Derek Frost), Cas Anvar (Hazmi), Russell Peters (Max Denoff), Frédérick De Grandpré (Sean Fentress Reflection), Joe Cobden (Jim), Gordon Masten (Conductor), Chris Thomas (Executive); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Mark Gordon/Jordan Wynn/Philippe Rousselet; Summit Entertainment and Vendôme Pictures; 2011)
“Slick sci-fi thriller about parallel universes.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Duncan Jones (“Moon”) helms this slick sci-fi thriller about parallel universes. It ultimately works only as escapist entertainment, even though it promises more–tense suspense and an intelligent story. But it goes no further than promising because it doesn’t know when to conclude. It’s creatively structured by Jones and is smartly written by Ben Ripley, until it implodes because it can’t find a way to intelligently end it without resorting to a bogus Hollywood happy ending. The dumb ending, probably dictated by the studio suits, removes its early storytelling success of making it a substantial existential story.

For the heady types taking in this mainstream treat (a film much like Groundhog Day-1993), the Source Code refers to a way of resetting time and creating a parallel universe, and is diverting until the pic is compromised and turns into the usual trite blockbuster big-budget film. Though its conceit might seem hokey futuristic sci-fi stuff, it’s nevertheless governed by the laws of quantum mechanics.I just finished reading the renown scientist Dr. Michio Kaku’s latest book “Physics of the Future,” and what’s seemingly farfetched here might be according to him part of our daily lives by the year 2100. The film’s concept is an interesting one to ponder, especially since we already have the technology to carry it out.

Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) is an Air Force captain on active duty inAfghanistan, who is stunned to wake up on a Chicago bound commuter train and have the pretty twentysomething stranger Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan) sitting near him and acting as if they’re together. The disorientated Colter has no idea why he’s on the train, why he has an id card that says he’s history teacher Sean Fentress and why when he looks in the mirror there’s the face of someone else. After eight minutes pass, a bomb aboard the train explodes and kills all the passengers. Colter is seen after the blast in a metal capsule, where the military’s Captain Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga), his handler, is in communication with him on a monitor and telling him his mission is to find the bomb and when he does he will find the terrorist bomber. Goodwin insists he go back to relive those eight minutes until he discovers the bomb’s location and the identity of its maker, and that he should not bother doing anything else to impede the mission.

Colter will find the bomb hidden in the toilet’s ventilation shaft, but the bomb will again explode killing all the passengers. When in contact again with Goodwin, he also speaks with Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright), the patriotic inventor of the Source Code, and is told that he died two months ago as a Silver Star hero in a helicopter crash in the Afghanistan war and since his brain was still partially functioning was recruited as a guinea pig for this experimental secret military program. Colter learns that he’s been programmed for this mission to catch the mad bomber, who claimed the train explosion was only the beginning and that his next terrorist act will be a ‘dirty bomb’ in crowded Chicago. Functioning with the implanted memories of the dead passenger, the war hero learns he has another chance to be a hero and save lives and that after this mission he will be allowed to permanently die.

Colter’s handlers insist all he can do is locate the bomber so that he doesn’t strike again, but he cannot alter events since the explosion already occurred. Our hero insists he must try to do more and goes through another nerve wracking eight minute rerun on the train to see if he can stop the bomb from being detonated and thereby save lives, and tells Goodwin he’s willing to die if he can save the lives on those on the train.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”