Film Review: Source Code

Source Code, unlike its namesake in the film, does not have the ability to change the world. It does, however, provide a hugely enjoyable ninety minutes of entertainment.

Soldier Colter Stevens wakes up on a commuter train in Chicago, sitting opposite a beautiful young woman who seems to know him. He has no idea where he is and how he ended up there. Just as Colter begins to get his bearings, there is a huge explosion. Colter wakes up in a dark chamber, desperate for some answers…

Source Code is a well-written and well-executed movie. Its intriguing sci-fi premise retains the interest, but is comprehensible to all. The film balances this science fiction with action and suspense to produce a memorable race-against-time thriller with a twist.

The film’s premise necessitates that the same events reoccur. This could have become sluggish and repetitive, but in Duncan Jones’ capable hands the film is sharp and engaging. There is the all-important tension, but Source Code offers more than just this.

The wider implication of the technology on display is explored in Source Code. However, the film never dwells too much on the big picture. This works to Source Code‘s advantage; the fact that the focus is on the immediate story gives more weight to the fate of the protagonists. Time is permitted to give Stevens depth, and allows the audience to engage with the character and his background. Whilst a more thorough scrutiny of the technology depicted in the film may have been fascinating, this is not what Source Code is about.

The art design and cinematography in the film are great, as is the editing in the more dramatic sequences. Effects are also good, except the explosion images tend to look a little artificial. This is the only real negative in an otherwise well-produced film.

Jake Gyllenhaal is a capable action hero in Source Code. Nevertheless, it is Vera Farmiga as Carol Goodwin who gives the film its heart. Farmiga offers an understated performance, bringing a subdued but powerful quality to her character. Jeffrey Wright is convincing as Rutledge, the scientist whose concern is stereotypically on the big picture rather than the plight of Stevens. Michelle Monaghan has little to do but look pretty.

Source Code is not astounding in its originality, or likely to change the face of contemporary cinema. The film is simply a slick, enticing sci-fi thriller that successfully entertains from start to finish.