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Style Magazine

Film Review: Source Code

Apr 01, 2011 10:55AM ● By Wendy Sipple

Source Code opens very strong as we start right in the middle of the story, unsure what to make of what is happening, just like Colton Stevens, the lead character of the movie.

However as Source Code gets deeper into its plot the story begins to sag beneath the layers of complexity it has added to its premise. In the end I felt Source Code limped to the finish because it became too greedy with its high concept.

The plot of the movie follows Colton Stevens, a member of the armed services, who is sent back in time on a train that explodes in Chicago. His mission is to find the person who detonates the bomb as the terrorist has claimed he will set another one off later that day in the heart of Chicago. The trouble is he has only the last eight minutes of the train ride to figure out who has done it. Once the train blows up he is sent back eight minutes to try again. 

I will try not to divulge too much more of the plot as to not spoil the twists and surprises in the film. However I can say that like most time travel movies the logic of this alternate universe begins to fray as they add their twists and by the end there are so many holes in their plot it becomes impossible to ignore. This may not be a problem but the movie spends a great deal of time trying to explain to the audience how this can plausibly be done, and it just crumbles under the weight of its ideas. If it would have been content with the very interesting idea it started with I believe Source Code could have been a far better movie.

The other major complaint I had with Source Code is that its villain was paper thin and completely uninteresting. His reason for doing the bombings was as generic and easy to come up with as possible. In addition I couldn’t help wondering why this terrorist would set of a smaller bomb on a train, for no better reason than blowing up a train? If he had a much bigger and more sinister bomb he planned to set off that same day wouldn’t the first bomb ruin his element of surprise? Unless he had a good reason for wanting that specific train blown up, why do it? I wish the writers had given much more thought to terrorist as it would have made the movie much more compelling. 

There were good things about Source Code too. Before the concept becomes too complex and riddled with holes, the first third of the movie is extremely strong and incredibly interesting. Jake Gyllenhaal does a great job of giving Colton Stevens a personality and it’s easy to like him. In fact all of the performances were very strong in the movie. Duncun Jones who is directing his first large budget movie after his critically acclaimed small budget film, Moon, does a great job at handling the action and the drama. He has a gift for making high concept sci-fi movies.

Source Code is a mixed bag but worth a look. As long as you avoid thinking to hard about the plausibility of what they are attempting to do in the film after the midway point you will find Source Code a fun ride. In the very least Source Code dares to be interesting and different which is more than a lot of large budget Hollywood films can say.

FILMS LIKE SOURCE CODE Groundhog Day, Butterfly Effect and The Time Machine

Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.