Source Code delivers sci-fi winner

By Wren Culp

Staff Writer

Jake Gyllenhaal stars in "Source Code." (Jonathan Wenk/Courtesy Summit Entertainment/MCT)

You wake up on a train you have never seen before. You know no one on the train, but people seem to know you. All you know is that there is a bomb on the train that will blow up in eight minutes and you have to prevent it. Welcome to Source Code.

Source Code tells the story of Capt. Colter Stephens (Jake Gyllenhaal) who wakes up in the body of a man he has never seen before. Sitting across from him is the friendly Christina (Michelle Monaghan), who tells him that he is acting strange. But Stephens is not listening to her. His name is Colter Stevens and he is supposed to be in Afghanistan. How did he wind up in a strange, unfamiliar place? This back and forth questionnaire lasts for eight minutes, and then – kaboom. The train blows up.

Stevens wakes up again in a capsule where he learns via video communication from government officer Carol Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) that he is part of a government experiment called Source Code.

The experiment allows Stephens to go back to the last eight minutes of someone else’s life by creating a parallel reality. However, he cannot alter the outcome of the explosion, but can only carry out his mission, which he learns from head scientist Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright).

The government gets word of a second attack that is imminent in downtown Chicago. If Stevens can find the bomber on the train, then the government can find the bomber.

Now Stevens must master his fake reality and find the bomber — eight minutes at a time.

Source Code is definitely an original idea. We have always had good movies about going back in time (see: Back To The Future, Butterfly Effect), but the film has a different twist to it that makes the category new and fresh. Think of Source Code as a science-fiction version of Groundhog Day.

The film capitalized on what it promised: being an intense sci-fi based movie. But in the end, it is so much more than that. The film does a good job showing the harsh realities of life and death and showing that, in the end, we have little control over either.

At one point in the film, Stephens wants to save Christina from the explosion, but is abruptly reminded that the world that he sees, touches, hears and experiences is not real. It is just a simulation. The fates of everyone on the train have already been sealed, which upsets Stephen.

The only flaw that I can think of the movie having is that some of the dialogue was is cheesy and cliché and sometimes it almost ruined the moment the film was going for.

Gyllenhaal is one of my favorite actors because he always brings his roles to life. Though the audience knows little about Stephens as a character to begin with, Gyllenhaal does a great job showing how anyone would react to being thrown into a situation like his. Farmiga, Monaghan and Wright all gave fine performances, as well.

Jake Gyllenhaal, from left, director Duncan Jones and Michelle Monaghan talk on the set of "Source Code." (Jonathan Wenk/Courtesy Summit Entertainment/MCT)

Director Duncan Jones (Moon) is already turning into one of my favorite directors, and he has only made two movies. He did a great job of creating two realities and making the fake world believable. I believe that is one of Jones’s strengths: he is able to blend emotional characters with an intense setting that, overall, boosts the quality of the movie.

Overall, Source Code is a very enjoyable, intense sci-fi flick. If you can get past some cheesy dialogue, then you will see a talented director paired with respectable actors to make a fine addition to the sci-fi world.

Source Code: A-

Rated: PG-13 for some violence including disturbing images, and for language