Artwork and Review By: Daniel Albert
Jake Gyllenhaal as been on my “hmm…I dunno” list since Bubble Boy. I mean the guy is more hit or miss than Nick Cage (who, let me remind those of you who are scoffing right now, won an Oscar at one point in his career). The Day After Tomorrow was atrocious, Jarhead was mediocre at best (through now fault of Gyllenhaal’s however), and I won’t even go into Love and Other Drugs. Which may have explained my trepidation when it came to Source Code.
One positive factor from the get go was that Source Code found Gyllenhaal returning to the genre that, for all intents and purposes launched his career; Time bending Sci-fi. Sure Gyllenhaal had October Sky, but it was the cult classic Donnie Darko that propelled him into the limelight. Source Code promised to deliver on all the same points and I was actually excited to see if the film could deliver.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that it did. The film has everything a moviegoer could possibly want; action, drama, even a little bit of romance. Source Code is that same time bending sci-fi thriller that’s right in Gyllenhaal’s wheel house.
Source Code tells the story of Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal), a helicopter pilot poached from the military by a secret government operation known as source code. The project, headed by Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) and source code inventor Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright), allows Stevens to relive the past via a computer program that links his brain waves to that of a deceased train passenger, tragically killed in a terrorist bombing. As it’s put in the movie “It’s not time travel, it’s time reassignment”.
Stevens relives the past in 8 minute spurts, in hopes of finding out the identity of the bomber in order to prevent a future attack on the city of downtown Chicago. However priorities switch for Stevens when he meets a beautiful woman on the train named Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan) and decides that he is going to save her from a death that is already cemented in the past.
Before you get all up in arms about how ludicrous the plot line may be let me just say that Source Code plays with a delicate balance between plot, and story, and yes there is a difference. Plot dictates the world the characters live in and how their actions effect the direction in which the story moves.
The plot deals with some very complex ideas including quantum physics, multiple realities, and even extreme leaps in neuroscience, but overall at the end of the film it hardly matters because you are so engrossed with the characters and their journey. By the end of the movie viewers are left satisfied with the story, leaving the plot to be discussed as a separate matter.
Being a huge sci fi fan and believer in the unknown I don’t find the plot of Source Code to be that far fetched anyways. It takes studied theories in quantum physics (which let’s be honest is pretty much a science made up almost completely of theory) and combines it with a plausible scientific process involving neuroscience and opens the door for discussion on both.
But for all those who are avoiding this film because they think it will be a heady mess, do yourself a favor and give it a chance. What you’ll end up with is an engrossing film that is visually beautiful, solidly acted (especially the chemistry between Gyllenhaal and Monaghan), and just as thrilling as it promises. Source Code is the first great film of 2011.