Somebody save Jake Gyllenhaal from his agent.
In a move more disorienting than thrilling, Source Code wastes no time in jumping into the action. Army Captain Colter Stevens (Gyllenhaal) awakens on a train across from Christina (Michelle Monaghan), confused as to how he got there, and unsure of who Christina is or why she keeps calling him by another name. Minutes later, a bomb goes off, the train explodes and Colter wakes up in a cell to learn that he is working for a division of the military experimenting with a form of time travel. It’s called the source code, and it allows Colter to enter another man’s identity for the last eight minutes of this man’s life. His mission? To relive these eight minutes over and over again to figure out who has planted a bomb on a commuter train before he can strike again and bomb the city of Chicago. The majority of the movie operates in these repeated, eight–minute segments aboard the train — think Groundhog Day (1993) as an action–adventure, sci–fi film.
The movie starts out decidedly jerky. With Colter as confused as the audience, many of the plot points have to be point–blank recited by the two military agents (Farmiga and Wright) putting Colter through the source code. Though the narrative picks up toward the end, Source Code is plagued by its lack of depth. It doesn’t help matters that the audience is never given a reason to care about Colter’s mission. The agents continually tell Colter that his actions can’t save the people on the train, and as a result, his insistence on trying just seems foolish. Additionally, though Colter is supposedly falling in love with Christina, the two barely interact.
It’s simplys hard to judge Source Code — which is perhaps because the film doesn’t seem to accomplish the goals of any genre. As an action movie, the conflict is too tame and the bad guys are not that interesting; as a sci–fi movie, the premise has major holes; and as a moral or psychological film, the characters are not developed enough to make viewers care about their ethical dilemmas. The feel–good ending is also sure to divide audiences.
As the film approaches its conclusion, the segments on the train get tighter, better–paced and altogether more exciting. But these cool cinematic effects hardly justify the haphazard script. If all you want is to see Jake Gyllenhaal on an endless time-loop, you’re better off renting Donnie Darko.
Directed by: Duncan Jones (Moon)
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Vera Farmiga, Jefferey Wright
Rated PG–13, 93 min.