Source Code (2011)

Source Code is a movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a soldier who wakes up in another man’s body aboard a train that is going to explode…a lot.

The premise of this movie is that some government group has discovered and developed a technology that allows them to access a mental source code–the eight minutes of photographic memory & the synaptic pathways of the brain that, when accessed, can allow someone to “live” someone else’s last eight minutes. But that’s all high level and besides the point. The point is, the person who gets to live this other person’s last mentally recorded moments has to be the same height and build and have very similar synaptic pathways in their brain, and it’s lucky for us that Colter Stevens fits the bill.

You see, the bombing on the train was just the first target. Now they’re going after the city of Chicago. It’s up to Colter to keep reliving this man on the train’s last eight minutes until he can find the bomber so the next attack can be prevented.

Before my review, two things: 1) why is Chicago now the go to city to destroy/blow up? Is it sensitivity to the 9/11 ten year anniversary, or the quest to make new buildings go boom that we haven’t seen ten thousand times? and 2) Ever since Vantage Point, I’ve seen too many movies use this continuous loop of slightly different action. It was innovative in Vantage Point; now it’s just annoying.

If I had to choose an actor to act in a box, it wouldn’t be Jake Gyllenhaal. If I had to pick a soldier to act in a box–still wouldn’t be him. The movie could have benefit from a different casting choice in this central role. Not that Gyllenhaal was all that bad–he has just enough fight and scrappiness to make his meager allotment of story work– but it all depends on him being confused about what’s happening through the most of the film, and his selfish desires through the rest. I grew weary of him interrrupting the pressing quest to find the bomb with his side mission to…well, if you watch it, you’ll see. He conveyed the right emotions, but in a few places, it was a little wooden, like a dancer whose face reflects that they are counting in their head.

The supporting characters were great, even if ninety percent of them had no clue what was going on and were just in the last eight minutes of some random guy’s life.

The action was a bit subpar. They didn’t exploit the tension of the time constraint enough, nor were we able to see a protracted explosion shot. The special effects of things going boom were a bit cheesy in places.

What saves this movie from blah is the supporting cast, hemmed by Michelle Monaghan & Vera Farmiga. These two women, one clueless to what’s going on and one who knows more than everyone else, made the movie enjoyable. You desperately wanted one to be saved and the other to…well, you’ll see if you watch the movie.

Short review: I hated the loops and there wasn’t enough action, but the acting made the movie worth a rental.

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