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Time moves forward, onward toward
A future none can change or guess,
A train that all must get aboard
And some debark with suddenness.

But what if one could board again
To pick up pieces not yet broke,
To change the now before it’s then,
To douse the fire before the smoke?

Rating: PG-13


Have you ever noticed a movie that you immediately wanted to see because you could tell solely from the trailer or the premise that you would like it but for some reason or other you just never got around to seeing it even years after it came out? That never happens, right? Well, that’s what happened with me and Source Code, but finally I saw it and found it to be exactly the kind of film I was hoping for and expecting: fast-paced, compelling, and mind-challenging.

When Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up in the body of random commuter Sean Fentress on his way to Chicago, he is shocked at having no memory of how he got there and even more shocked when the train explodes and kills him. Next, he wakes up somewhere else and is told he is part of a secret government experiment for “time reassignment,” which can repeatedly give him the last eight minutes of Fentress’ life in order to figure out the identity of the bomber. Instructed by a sympathetic adviser (Vera Farmiga) and the demanding creator of this Source Code technology (Jeffrey Wright), Stevens returns to the train, where every passenger is a suspect and every repeat reveals something new.

If it seems like a mix of Quantum Leap and Groundhog Day, well, it is, and there’s not a thing wrong with that. I love the concepts of both, and fusing the two was what initially attracted me. Yet as easy as it might be to write the film off as unoriginal, Source Code takes some unexpected turns that not only question the morality of Stevens’s situation but bend its sci-fi idea to turn a no-win scenario into an oddly satisfying ending. (My VC was of a different mind and felt the ending was too unbelievable to be fulfilling.)

Throughout it all, Gyllenhaal provides a surprisingly emotional performance through his eight-minute missions, and the mystery was both enjoyable and urgent. (It was cool how the filmmakers incorporated Quantum Leap’s Scott Bakula for a brief but significant unseen role.) There are certainly unanswered questions, such as the overcomplicated details of how the Source Code actually works and what happens to the real Sean Fentress every time Stevens jumps into him. Nevertheless, like Groundhog Day, Source Code overcomes all its repetition and deserves multiple viewings; just remember, “everything is going to be okay.” Here’s a funny parody from MAD that made me want to see it even more:


Best line: (Stevens) “Christina, what would you do if you knew you had less than one minute to live?” (Christina, a fellow passenger) “I’d make those seconds count.”


Rank: List-Worthy


© 2015 S. G. Liput

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