Source Code (2011)

It’s Saturday that finally did it. I have always disliked going to movie theaters, but never more than now. Last weekend’s mad shoe-shopping, food-buying, seat-scrambling affair with Maki turned me off from the whole deal (seat stealers are the worst). So from now on, unless I decide a film’s worth the hassle, I’m sticking to videos.

Fresh off military duty in Afghanistan, Capt. Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) finds himself suddenly alone in a cramped chamber, a computer monitor his only connection to the outside world. An Air Force officer, Capt. Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga), tells him that he must solve a bombing mystery using Source Code, a program that would allow him to relive a dead man’s last memory. In this pseudo-reality that lasts only eight minutes, where he falls in love with a girl named Christina (Michelle Monaghan), he must complete his mission before time runs out and the bomber strikes again.

Source Code offers a morbidly intriguing premise: technology that allows for an infinite reliving of death. It also provides an interesting (albeit familiar) resolution: the forking of worlds at decision junctures (also in Kenzaburo Oe’s A Personal Matter). “You think there’s an alternate version of you?” Capt. Stevens asks his guide. “A Goodwin who made different choices?” As Maki says, Source Code works as science fiction because its emphasis lies not in the science but in its effects on human emotions, on human lives. It also works as a thriller, although in the beginning it felt like it was trying too hard to keep viewers in suspense. Goodwin’s “no time to explain” excuse hardly works: it’s easy to figure out that an initial briefing would have saved more time.

I thought this over a lot, but in the end I have to say that I still have qualms about the film’s too-happy resolution. I would have preferred an ending at the time-freeze scene. Proceeding beyond that point felt unnecessary to me, overkill. The only thing it succeeds in doing is set up a grander Hollywood finale, one that the movie doesn’t need. (Of course I could just be saying this because I absolutely love the time-freeze scene: it made the hairs on my arms stand on end.) Regardless, despite my many I-would-have-liked-it-better-ifs, I really enjoyed watching this movie. If anything, it’s worth the hassle.

‘It’s the same train, but it’s different.’

‘What would you do if you knew you had less than one minute to live?’ ‘I’d make those seconds count.’

‘Tell me everything’s gonna be okay.’


2 thoughts on “Source Code (2011)

  1. Joachim Boaz

    Have you seen Duncan Jones’ brilliant first film, ‘Moon’? Infinitely superior in every regard…. But then again, this is a pretty good switch from Indie filmmaking with a super low budget to a big budget hollywood feature… But yes, I hate all too-happy resolutions! haha. Tangent: Did you know that the director, Duncan Jones, is David Bowie’s son?


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