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The Warsaw Voice » World of Movies » May 27, 2011
Film review
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Source Code
May 27, 2011   
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Action movies with a touch of science-fiction in which characters travel through time to avert a crime or reverse its effects seem to be a new trend—best exemplified by Tony Scott’s Déj`a Vu (2006) starring Denzel Washington. The common feature of such flicks is that they are centered around some mysterious science project being carried out in an über-secret military lab for hundreds of millions of dollars. The objective is to try and bend the time-space continuum so as to enable a visit to the past. In Source Code, the second movie by 40-year-old director Duncan Jones after Moon (2009), the past opens its door for just eight minutes, but time travel can be repeated over and over again.

Capt. Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal—Brokeback Mountain, Zodiac, Jarhead), a pilot who flies helicopters for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, wakes up dressed in a civilian’s clothes on a commuter train to Chicago. He has no recollection of getting on the train nor does he recognize anybody, least of all Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan—Eagle Eye, Mission: Impossible III), an attractive woman who sits opposite him. The way she acts suggests they have known each other for a long time and regularly travel together on this route. What’s even more disturbing, Christina addresses Colter with a different name. The ultimate shock comes when Colter looks in a bathroom mirror only to see the face of a total stranger. Before he even gets the chance to wrap his head around what’s going on, a powerful blast turns his car—and several others—into a ball of fire.

The next thing he knows, Colter wakes up again, now in his familiar pilot jacket, locked inside a capsule he cannot get out of. On a screen, he sees Air Force officer Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga—The Departed, Up in the Air), who tells him that this is a secret operation as part of which he temporarily assumes the identity of a man who was killed in a terrorist attack along with 100 other people. Their deaths are irreversible, but Colter may be able to track down the terrorist on the doomed train and prevent another attack which this time could involve radioactive material.

“This is not time travel. This is time reassignment,” Colter is told by Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright—Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Syriana), who built the Source Code machine that made the investigation possible. Colter accepts the challenge, but on his consecutive trips to the train he finds out far more than he ever wished to know.

The terrorist aside (a careful viewer can easily identify the villain as soon as he shows up on the screen), Colter learns some shocking facts about his own future. As a result, while struggling to stop the psychopath, he must also try to outsmart his commanders so as to give the passengers a chance to survive—if that is possible in the first place.

Source Code is an engaging thriller that gains a lot from the claustrophobic feel imparted by both the train and Colter’s capsule. Another plus is that the movie lasts just over 90 minutes and is free from long-drawn-out bits and plot holes. Still, debut-making screenwriter Ben Ripley went a step too far with the happy ending, which is played out in several acts. Source Code would be a much better movie if it ended a few minutes earlier.
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