A US soldier (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up in the body of a passenger travelling on a train that is blasted eight minutes later. He must relive the eight minutes over and over again till he finds out who the bomber is. Read the review of Source Code for more.
Business rating: 1 star
Star cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Vera Farmiga, Michelle Monaghan.
What’s Good: The engaging first half; Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance.
What’s Bad: The unbelievable base of the script; the confusing latter half and the climax.
Verdict: Source Code is a film that will need to be decoded by the audience to be completely enjoyed, and that is not an easy task.
Loo break: None.
Watch or Not? Watch it only if you are a fan of the sci-fi genre.
Vendôme Pictures and The Mark Gordon Company’s Source Code is a science-fiction film about an American soldier who is put in the unlikely situation of finding the culprit of a train blast that has already happened.
US army officer Cotler Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up in a Chicago-bound train, seated opposite one Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan), who keeps referring to him as Sean. After some time, the train that Stevens is travelling in blows up. Stevens wakes up inside a dark chamber fixed with gizmos and a TV screen through which he can contact one Capt. Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga). Goodwin tells him that his mission is to find the bomber of the Chicago-bound train. Goodwin further tells Stevens that he is being sent into a parallel reality where the last eight minutes of one of the dead travellers, Sean’s memories, can be replayed. And that Stevens will be sent back over and over again till he finds the bomber. For this, Stevens must use whatever means he can to find out who the culprit is and identify him/her. He must do so before the bomber sets off another dirty bomb elsewhere in the US.
Thus begins a series of events where Stevens relives the eight minutes repeatedly. Through Goodwin and Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright), a scientist, Steven learns that he is part of a government experiment called the ‘Source Code’, a program that enables him to cross over into another man’s body and assume his identity in the last eight minutes of his life. He is also told that he cannot alter the past to save any of the passengers, but that he must gather any vital information that can prevent a future attack. Stevens picks up clues before the eight minutes get over and then, he is killed in the blast each time. Again, each time, he wakes up in the dark chamber to pass information to Goodwin. Slowly, he takes a liking for Christina, his co-passenger, although Goodwin tells him that she is dead.
Soon, Stevens finds the bomb and is also able to find the bomber, who is then apprehended by the authorities. In the course of his investigations, Stevens also discovers a very startling fact about himself that changes his outlook. Now, Stevens decides to save Christina at any cost.
What happens next? Can Goodwin change the future? What about the alternate reality Stevens is in? The climax of the film answers these questions.
Story and Screenplay – Source Code Review
First up, it must be said that the whole idea of Source Code is preposterous. Even though it is a science fiction film, and one does not expect reality, the phenomenon described in the film – one man entering the body and memory of a dead man, of course, in a parallel reality only – is too fantastic to be palatable. Having said that, it must be added that Ben Ripley’s screenplay is fascinating enough to keep the audience glued to their seats. There is a lot of confusion in the initial few reels of the film, but things become clearer as the drama progresses. Wonderfully choreographed and picturised action sequences, snappy editing and masterful storytelling keep the audience engaged in the scenes where Stevens keeps going back into the simulations. However, once the film’s climax draws closer, incomprehensible facts start stumbling out, and the interest level of the audience dips. Only a select few, who will grab the reality of the many realities that are being portrayed on screen, will be satisfied with the climax. The number of such audience, in India, would be very less. Besides, the screenplay grabs your attention but loses it as soon as it becomes unbelievably absurd. That is the script’s greatest drawback.
That the script requires the suspension of belief is a given. But while the writer tries to push the envelope in making his story ever more strange, he does not give the audience enough hints as to what is happening, leaving them to make their own conclusions. For instance, the origins or the workings of the Source Code project are never really explained. There even isn’t the slightest clue as to how it works. There is a bit of information about this towards the end but it is too little and comes too late.
Star Performances – Source Code Review
Jake Gyllenhaal is in top form and plays both, the helpless and brave moods of his character, very well. Michelle Monaghan does an okay job. Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright are competent. Michael Arden (as bomber Derek Frost) and Canadian-Indian comic Russell Peters (as a train passenger) are okay in their small roles.
Direction & Cinematography – Source Code Review
Duncan Jones’ direction is fair as he manages to keep the viewers interested in spite of the repetitive nature of scenes. He also extracts good performances and maintains the pace of the film. Chris P. Bacon’s background score is good. Don Burgess’ cinematography is exceptional. Paul Hirsch’s editing is okay.
The Last Word
On the whole, Source Code is intriguing cinema but because of its unbelievable premise and confusing climax, it will not endear itself to the majority of the Indian audiences.