JT Film Review

137 – Source Code (2011)

Source Code Review

2.5/5 stars

Director – Duncan Jones

Cast – Jake Gyllenhaal, Vera Fermiga, Michelle Monaghan, Jeffrey Wright, Michael Arden, Russel Peters


Source Code  is the second film from Moon director (and son of David Bowie), Duncan Jones. The idea at the core of the movie is that Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) must repeatedly relive the eight minutes prior to a train bombing in order to deduce the culprit.

It’s a great idea, but I never felt it living up to its premise, and while it may be a bit unfair to judge a movie on the heights it fails to hit, we can’t help but think of how much better the movie could have been.

The movie is really a murder mystery at heart. The victims are the train passengers, the train is the island or snowbound inn of countless armchair mysteries, and the murderer must be one of the people on the train. Colter of course, is our Poroit. Agatha Christie would be proud. But what is the main rule of a murder mystery? It seems to me that is that you solve the crime at the end of the story. Source Code solves the crime far too soon, not too long after the half way point, and then moves on to a far less involving plot. This just plain doesn’t work.

Now, Stevens must try to stop the bomb exploding in the first place, despite the fact that he is repeatedly told that the mechanism which allows him to relive these events is essentially just a simulation that has no effect on real life. He insists on trying anyway, and with the illicit help of Vera Farmiga’s military character, he goes back in to save the life of all the passengers of the train. Especially the life of the hot brunette who sat across the aisle, who he apparently he has fallen in love with. The brunette with whom he has no past, no relationship, and has exchanged maybe 50 words with. Structured this way, the movie comes across as two episodes of a TV show just glued together. And the second half is nowhere near as good as the first.

Which brings us to the ending… an absolute cop-out of an ending that leaves us wanting more (in a bad way). Worse than just being a cop-out, it seems to break the rules already established previously. It just casually smashes them, and treats it like a plot twist. But a plot twist must come out of the rules already established. To go back to the murder mystery reference again, we must have been able to, if we are smart enough, figure out the ending with all the information provided; but here we had already been told (well, essentially) that the ending we get was impossible. It just felt like cheating to me.

Well, enough of the bad stuff. It cannot be argued that the actors here are all excellent, with Gyllenhaal demonstrating great leading man chops, and Farmiga once again showing us what an under valued actress she is. The true standout though is Jeffrey Wright. To those who have only really seen him in the Bond series (including me, unfortunately), his great performance as somewhat of a mad scientist will come as a shock, he really is wonderful.


Source Code is frustratingly uneven; frustrating because the first half is really good. The central idea is so strong, and filled with such promise, that it strikes me as strange that the plot line should be solved just after the half way point, to be followed by a series of much weaker events. Slack characterization and development mean we don’t care about the ensuing romantic side plot, leaving the ending lackluster and anti-climactic. The first half is great though, so that leaves the movie with a half score, 2.5 out of 5.



“Source Code” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia



January 16, 2012 - Posted by | 2.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Sci-fi, Year - 2010-2019 | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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