March 23, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 42°F


Sci-fi action film stays on track

A movie with men engaged in fistfights, a damsel in distress, a bomb threat and high-speed train sequences seems a little too common in Hollywood these days.

But, the new sci-fi/action thriller “Source Code” is a refreshing addition to the genre, with an unusual, heart-wrenching family reunion, dilemmas about technology and a nontraditional romance, plus the usual adrenaline.

Duncan Jones directs this surprisingly touching film starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Captain Colter Stevens. The movie opens with Stevens waking up on a commuter train, not knowing how he got there or where he is. Before he has time to comprehend his situation or identify the woman across from him (Michelle Monaghan), the train explodes. He finds himself back in a capsule, only able to communicate with a mysterious official, Captain Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga), through a tiny television screen.

The source code, a technological innovation involving the afterglow of a dead human being’s brain and algorithms, enables him to move into the body of a victim of the explosion to relive the last eight minutes of his life over and over again. The eventual explanation of how Stevens moves between these two places and the drama that ensues as he revisits the train trying to find the bomber are tantalizing and perfectly timed. Gyllenhaal shows his acting prowess once again as a soldier caught between duty and desire. He beautifully portrays the emotional and physical torture Stevens experiences.

The special effects are not flashy, but they establish the realistic feel of science-fictional aspects of the story. The cinematography leaves something to be desired, as a film with only one main location is apt to do, but provides a consistent, occasionally artistic view of the different events and varying methods of Stevens’ attempts.

Farmiga is impressive with her emotional depth in an underdeveloped role. The script does not allow her many sentimental pauses or great speeches, but she works within these limitations. Her acting proves her worth as a new face in the industry. Monaghan plays the “woman to be saved” part with charm but adds little past her dialogue.

If audiences are looking for action or humanity, “Source Code” is a stirring tale about the dangers of technology and the value of human life.

“Source Code” was written by Ben Ripley and directed by Duncan Jones.

3.5 out of 4 stars