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Source Code - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Source Code
Directing: B+
Acting: A-
Writing: B
Cinematography: A-
Editing: B+
Special Effects: B+
Music: B+

Source Code is that rare movie that grabs you from the instant it begins -- which is good, because that gives you less time to ponder the ridiculousness of it all while the action is propelling forward at a breakneck pace.

The very opening shots are of the Chicago skyline, gleaming beautifully on a sunny spring day. The imagery would seem rather pleasant, if it weren't for their quick (but, thankfully, not too quick) cuts, and perhaps most importantly, the accompanying score by Chris Bacon, which manages both the sense of suspense and the expectation of imminent thrill.

Because, honestly, Source Code is a thrill to watch. That's clearly all it's meant to be, considering a script that's simply best not thought about too much. Any time attempts are made at explaining at exactly how Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal, superb) is waking up in the body of another man on a train just eight minutes before he dies, the movie begins to lose traction. In one scene, Jeffrey Wright is so encumbered with the linguistic gymnastics of this movie's version of "quantum physics" that it's reminiscent of the infamous "Architect" scene in The Matrix Reloaded.

Mercifully, this clunky exposition, which always lack anything even resembling clarity, is always brief, and the story gets right back to the task at hand. Via a new computer program, Stevens is sent into the mind of this guy on a train, which is to get blown up eight minutes after he wakes up. His mission is first to figure out where the bomb is, and then identify the bomber, so that the authorities can find him and stop him from detonating a dirty bomb in downtown Chicago. (How they know this is the bomber's plan is never explained.)

Stevens is sent in over and over again, until he can perfect the efficiency of his task each time the eight minutes starts over. In a way, it's the action movie version of Groundhog Day, except, to this movie's credit, it never particularly feels repetitive -- because each time Stevens almost immediately alters the course of events in one way or another, which of course then changes everything that follows.

In what we are first to believe is the "real" world, Stevens is locked in a harness in some kind of metal capsule. The people running the computer program inside which he is apparently locked are seen, by him, via computer monitors on the walls. His primary vocal and visual contact is Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga, making the most of a part that almost exclusively holds her to sitting a chair looking at a camera), although on occasion he gets to see her superior, Dr. Rutledge. Jeffrey Wright, arguably the greatest under-appreciated actor alive today, plays Rutledge in a way characteristic of his body of work: he almost totally disappears in the part.

The acting across the board is in fact exemplary; this is the rare action/thriller in which the actors are wholly committed. Even when the revelation of the bomber-villain turns out to be a disappointment (the one line he's given to offer as explanation for his actions is pretty lame), Michael Arden infuses the character with surprising nuance given his limited amount of face time.

Source Code is just plain fun to watch, with action that moves at a steady clip. It's too engrossing to allow for too much rumination on how the hell any of what Stevens is doing is possible, which is perhaps -- smartly -- by design. This is a thrilling film that never outstays its welcome, and ends with the satisfaction of a great time at the movies.

source code

Overall: B+
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