Source Code review

Colter Stevens (Gyllenhaal) wakes up in the body of another man, not knowing who or where he is. However it doesn’t take long to discover that an elite group are using him (along with science and technology) to uncover the facts behind an earlier train bombing. It’s all very scientific, and technological.

I was very excited when I first heard about Source Code. It sounded like an interesting concept to me. I’m a big fan of mind-bending sci-fi thrillers, and after seeing Moon it was obvious that director Jones knows how to handle this genre. With a snappy trailer and a snazzy poster (even if it does bear a resemblance to Minority Report) I felt confident that the film would deliver the goods. And it does. Just in a slightly watered-down way.

Now that’s not to say it’s a bad film. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s a lot of fun and has been handled with a great deal of style. The film opens with very crisp, clear and colourful images. It’s a pleasure to see. But when the cold hard reality hits us the film switches to a completely different and unnerving colour scheme. This adds a lot of feeling towards the character of Stevens.

This feeling is sorely needed however as Gyllenhaal tries his best to play a soldier, but doesn’t quite pull it off (despite a few well placed punches to the faces of his adversaries). To me he will always be the excellently portrayed, quietly creepy Donnie Darko. The real show-stealer here is Jeffrey Wright, who plays his role as the mad scientist to perfection. He is a delight to watch.

As for the story, it is intriguing enough and has some unique plot points, but it just suffers from too many clichés. It also doesn’t help that the screenplay tries hard to bring new life to old territory but suffers from some truly awful lines of dialogue. At times the film seems a little close to Tony Scott’s Déjà vu, but eventually the film carves its own path. It is great to see Jones handling big budget action set pieces, while at the same time dealing with the more personal and human side of the story. Something he has done to perfection even from his early short film Whistle. This combination of humanity and action makes the film well worth watching, plus Source Code may be the world’s first "feel good" terrorist movie.

So if this is what a studio film from Jones looks like, then things are good. It will be very interesting to see what his next project, Mute, turns out like. I for one am looking forward to it with anticipation. My feelings are that this film could have used a bit more oomph, but was otherwise lots of fun and very enjoyable. So switch off your brain, get some popcorn and enjoy Source Code for what it is. A fun thrill ride that surely won’t leave action seekers disappointed.

Source Code at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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