Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Source Code (2011)

Source Code is a 2011 American science fiction-techno-thriller film directed by Duncan Jones, written by Ben Ripley, and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Russell Peters and Jeffrey Wright. The film had its world premiere on March 11, 2011 at South by Southwest , and was released by Summit Entertainment on April 1, in North America and Europe.

The Plot

Army helicopter pilot Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal), last aware of being on a mission in Afghanistan, wakes up on a commuter train (Metra) traveling to Chicago. He finds that to the world around him – including to his traveling partner Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan) and the bathroom mirror – he appears as Sean Fentress, a school teacher. As he comes to grips with this revelation, the train car explodes, killing everyone aboard and derailing it and a tanker train traveling in the other direction.

Stevens regains consciousness inside an unfamiliar cockpit. Through a screen, Air Force Captain Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) verifies Stevens' identity. She explains Stevens is in the "Source Code", an experimental device created by Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright), scientist for Beleaguered Castle (a military unit named after the card game), that allows its user to experience the last eight minutes of another compatible person's life within an alternate timeline. Stevens is being asked to use Source Code to discover the location of a bomb aboard the train and identify the bomber who detonated it. Goodwin explains that the train explosion occurred that morning, and was a warning by the bomber as a precursor to a larger dirty bomb that would be detonated in downtown Chicago. Though Stevens' actions cannot change the past and save the lives aboard the train, identifying the bomber in the alternate timeline will prevent the deaths of millions more in this one.

Stevens enters the Source Code several more times and continues to rule out passengers suspected to be the bomber, as well as developing increasingly strong romantic feelings and empathy for Christina. Within these jumps, he learns that these events occurred two months after an incident while on duty in Afghanistan that reportedly killed him. Once he discovers this, he verbally accosts Goodwin for more information. She is forced to explain that the remains of his body are on life-support at the Source Code facility while his mind is hooked up to its computer systems, the cockpit being a mental projection of his own mind to cope with the experience. Angered to discover this, Stevens makes a deal to complete the mission, demanding that they terminate his life support after it is completed, to which Dr. Rutledge agrees.

Back in the Source Code, Stevens eventually identifies a young man, Derek Frost (Michael Arden), as the bomber, and the rented white van that he will use to convey the dirty bomb into the center of town. On his return, his information is successfully used by the military to capture Frost before he can trigger the bomb in Chicago. Stevens is praised as a hero, but in private, Rutledge tells Goodwin to renege on the deal and instead wipe Stevens' memory, so he can be used the next time there is such an incident. In talking to Goodwin, Stevens realizes that the promise has been violated, and convinces Goodwin to let him return to Source Code once more after which she will disable his life support against Rutledge's orders.

Once back aboard the train, Stevens disarms the bomb, subdues Frost, and handcuffs him to a railing. Stevens calls the authorities to identify Frost and inform them of the location of the dirty bomb. Stevens takes Frost's phone to send an email to Goodwin describing the incident. He then calls his estranged father under the guise of a fellow soldier, mending the emotional distance from their past. He challenges an embittered comic (Russell Peters) to perform a stand-up routine on the train, perpetuating laughter throughout the entire train car, and then takes Christina aside. Asking her what she would do if she knew that she only had seconds left to live, Stevens begins to kiss her as his last few seconds run out. As promised, at this exact moment, Goodwin disables his life-support — the scene reveals his actual, physical body as severely mutilated and comatose. Time freezes, but Stevens is surprised to find himself finishing the kiss, still aboard the train with Christina, well beyond the eight minutes. In a flash of understanding, Stevens realizes he remains in the alternate timeline of the un-bombed train. The train arrives safely in Chicago, and he and Christina ditch work to walk together and discuss their future.


Source Code has received highly positive ratings by reviewers. Review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 91% of critics have given the film a positive review, based on 230 reviews, with an average score of 7.4/10. Rotten Tomatoes summarizes the critical consensus thusly: "Finding the human story amidst the action, director Duncan Jones and charming Jake Gyllenhaal craft a smart, satisfying sci-fi thriller." Metacritic has awarded the film an average score 74/100 based on 41 reviews. Critics have compared Source Code with the 1993 film Groundhog Day, or called it a "cross between Groundhog Day and Murder on the Orient Express." Arizona Republic film critic Bill Goodykoontz says comparing Source Code to Groundhog Day is doing a disservice to Source Code's enthralling "mind game."

Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times called the film "Confounding, exhilarating, challenging – and the best movie I've seen so far in 2011." Roger Ebert gave the film 3.5 stars out of 4, calling it "an ingenious thriller" where "you forgive the preposterous because it takes you to the perplexing." Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times called Ben Ripley's script "cleverly constructed" and a film "crisply directed by Duncan Jones", while also praising the "cast with the determination and ability to really sell its story." CNN called Ripley's script "ingenious" and the film "as authoritative an exercise in fractured storytelling as Christopher Nolan's Memento"; Gyllenhaal is "more compelling here than he's been in a long time." IGN gave it a 2.5/5, saying "Gyllenhaal brings sincerity and warmth to his role, but his conviction only helps the movie so far before it ultimately buckles under the weight of its plot mechanics."

The Cast

Jake Gyllenhaal as Colter Stevens
 Michelle Monaghan as Christina Warren
 Vera Farmiga as Colleen Goodwin
 Jeffrey Wright as Dr. Rutledge
 Michael Arden as Derek Frost
 Cas Anvar as Hazmi
 Russell Peters as Max Denoff
 Brent Skagford as George Troxel

No comments:

Post a Comment