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    April 9, 2011

    MOVIE REVIEW: SOURCE CODE

    SOURCE CODE (U)

    Genre: Drama/Science Fiction/Action
    Release Date: 7 April 2011
    Running Time: 94 minutes
    Distributor: Summit Entertainment
    Director: Duncen Jones
    Screenplay: Ben Ripley
    Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright

    Plot: When soldier Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up in the body of an unknown man; he discovers he's part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train. In an assignment unlike any he's ever known, he learns he's part of a government experiment called the "Source Code," a program that enables him to cross over to another man's identity for the last 8 minutes of his life. Colter re-lives the incident over and over again through different people until he manages to foil another attack, and in the process unexpectedly falls in love with one of the passengers.

    Review: What would you do if you only have eight minuted to live? A simple question yet gives about a thousand of possible answers that could be very tricky and uncertain on its ground nature. To answer this question is pretty subjective to yourself but you could argue that living through it requires a bit of luck and determination. Source Code is fine example how one man is given multiple attempt to rectify things right in order to save the citizens of Chicago from an abomination of catastrophic. You want some action thriller that bends your mind? You got one in the form of Source Code.


    In Source Code, Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up one Monday morning finding himself in an unfamiliar commuter train heading to Chicago. His last memory is only a fraction of scanty detail of his last mission in Afghanistan, piloting a helicopter in that war-torn nation. He quickly realizes the uncommon circumstances but the woman in front of him does not think so. The woman named Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan) whom he never meet before, recognizes him as Sean Fentress. Adding on the confusion, he realizes that his is inside another man and his reflection is not his. However, before he can understand what is really happening, a bomb blows off the train they are in.

    Stevens then awakens inside a capsule, where he is greeted through a computer screen by Captain Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga), an Air Force officer who tells Stevens that he is inside the Source Code, a program that allows him to take over someone's body in his or her last eight minutes of life. Earlier that day, a bomb exploded inside the train heading to Chicago and it is the same train he boarded earlier. Reluctantly, Steven is assigned a mission to locate the bomb, discover who built it, and report back to Goodwin before the bomber can detonate a second larger bomb, a dirty nuclear device, in downtown Chicago which could cause the deaths of millions of people.


    The story and premise of Source Code are indeed smart, fresh and intriguing. In other words, it is more like 'Groundhog Day' than 'Deja vu' where things keep repeating for the good sake with some addition of 'The Matrix' style of plugging-into a parallel reality. The mechanism of Source Code is never fully understood although it has been exposited that the source Code program runs in an alley of quantum physic. Source Code functions only to recap and not to alter the events that have past. Most important aspect of the Source Code itself is the applicability. The movie tackles the story well by inserting a man against his own will to try to prevent the next catastrophic incident. It is as simple story as it can get by requiring him to locate the bomb, finds the bomber and saves the world. However, things never always get so simple as that.

    Source Code works more than a thriller on the constant need for chasing the criminal. It also features romantic, amnesiac noir and humanity issues into one. Writer Ben Ripley did a fantastic job by applying these elements to produce an engaging, swift and terrific movie as the outcome. The movie develops the master key to unlock other potential and possibility in the chain of reactions aftermath. Unlike most thriller, the movie progress continuously by revealing elements of surprise at the time. It builds up and when it is about that time, questions solved and the new one will appear. The movie is constantly on a fast pace, requiring you to think and look for signs too, just like Captain Steven does throughout the whole movie. Becareful, Source Code is an equally cerebral movie that may drains some of your brain juice.


    [SPOILER ALERT] Source Code spends only one-third of the movie by jumping back into the event to search for clues and hints. Another one-third is about expository on the questions of the existence of the system itself which I think is a distraction. Particularly in the middle-stint, I am not sure if Stevens is still determined to find the bomber because he is busy popping out questions. Another one-third is about his estranged relationship with his father. Don't get me wrong. All of these elements work well but I also thought that the screenplay may have been even better if there is more exploration done on tackling the issues. As a new director, Duncan Jones is a few step away to show his more confident because there are some areas in the movie which I think should have been executed better.

    Overall performance of acting is on par. Jake Gyllenhaal should have given more characterization and development as it comes a little too late at the end of the movie. Still, his role as a confused soldier on mission is believable in surreal. Otherwise, the only character that develops the most is Captain Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) as we can see her transformation throughout the section of the movie. However, there is a sense that this movie feels cheap. Effects are not so convincing and it could be justified that the technical aspect is not at the state of the art.

    However, in the end of the day, Source Code is a smart sci-fi thriller that makes every eight minutes of the time counts into solidly intriguing and feels fresh premise. It probes not only as a mind-bender that challenges the logic and reason but also constantly reminding us about the desire of real humanity and psychology of love. This Duncan Jones' movie is also a further testimony that he will become a master soon. It is a little shame because I believe Jones can do more than this.

    THE RATING:
    Story: 4.5
    Casts: 4.0
    Cinematography: 4.0
    Effects: 3.5
    GREEN-TEA-O-METER: 16.5
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