Source Code
You’re proposing to her after only 8 minutes? … It’s Michelle Monaghan, I understand completely.

Theatrical Release Date: 04/01/2011
Director: Duncan Jones
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright
Rated: PG-13 for some violence including disturbing images, and for language.
Runtime: 1 hour, 33 minutes


I love a woman in uniform.

Director Duncan Jones made quite the critical splash with 2009′s low budget / high concept, “Moon”. For sci-fi fans who haven’t yet seen that film, it’s available through whatever means you prefer to get your home movies and I can’t recommend it highly enough. The more timely question, however, is whether or not people should flock to theaters to see him dip back into the science fiction pool with “Source Code”.

What we have here is Jake Gyllenhaal doing his best “Groundhog Day” meets “Quantum Leap” impression, in a quest to find out who bombed a commuter train on its way into downtown Chicago (there’s a nice nod to the TV show, with Scott Bakula playing his father). However, the film also attempts to make a mystery out of how Gyllenhaal came to be a part of the project and the ethical boundaries his handlers are willing to cross … which is where the film falls somewhat short.

Myself, and a few other critics I talked to after the movie, could tell you who the bomber was, the major ‘twist’, and an approximate ending all by the 10-minute mark (and I’m being somewhat generous). For a premise that is so reliant on trying to keep us guessing, it’s disappointing how predictable events progress. To its credit, the film apparently does a nice job of being consistent with its science fiction; I say ‘apparently’ because my evaluation is based on the one screening, and normally I’m not the type to spot more subtle inconsistencies until subsequent viewings. However, if nothing stuck out like a sore thumb initially, I’d say that’s a good thing.

Also working in the film’s favor is the chemistry between Gyllenhaal and Michelle Monaghan. Her companion is the one being used by Jake to explore the situation on the train and it’s watching these actors play off one another that gives the story its heart. Although this is largely being billed as a thriller, the romantic angle is what resonates strongest and will keep audiences invested.

Another well handled element is the cinematography and use of high definition. The film looks gorgeous – from the aerial shots of the train as it heads to Chicago, to the confined space Gyllenhaal returns to after each jump, to how good the two leads look (though that probably has more to do with DNA). Jones and his crew did a nice job of framing each shot and the attention to visual detail was very much appreciated; as was the brisk and appropriate running time of 93 minutes.

By the end of the film, as things progressed to their predictable resolutions, I felt there were a number of tonal/thematic similarities between this and “Moon”. The question going forward will be whether Jones can handle other genres or will break this mold but for now, if you found the trailer interesting and like the main actors, “Source Code” pretty much delivers what you’re looking for and so it gets a 3 out of 5.

3 out of 5