April 1, 2011
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Jake Gyllenhaal has been a bit hit-and-miss lately. Prince of Persia fell flat and, though Love and Other Drugs was a pleasant movie, it didn’t gain the traction the studio was expecting. But this time around, he seems ready to make this one work taking pieces from his earlier films with him.
Source Code stars Gyllenhaal as Army Captain Colter Stevens. Stevens has been chosen to participate in the source code program. The program means he is to be isolated and reinserted into someone else’s final moments. Stevens is given the last 8 minutes of a train ride into Chicago to find what happened to the train he is on. Who bombed the train and why?
Stevens has to keep going back, over and over, reliving the same 8 minutes like a mash-up of Unstoppable and Groundhog Day. No matter what he does, the past can’t change. Though he saves one woman’s life, the next time he goes in she is back on the train like he is. Things haven’t changed. Despite figuring out what happened before the bomber strikes again, he also wants to save her.
Source Code borrows heavily from a slew of movies about being trapped in the past. Elements of The Time Machine and 12 Monkeys are the most obvious. But where borrowing from other films can lead to a shallow homage, this film has enough to stand on its own. Gyllenhaal’s seems to bring pieces of Donnie Darko and his Jarhead role to the table, giving him a well-developed character for him to explore.
However, the film ultimately goes on a predictable course. Despite being committed to the role, and backed by a great supporting cast of Jeffrey Wright, Vera Farmiga, and Michelle Monaghan, Gyllenhaal can get the film to soar where it could. It’s a solid science-fiction/action/time-travel film. I was just hoping for a something a bit stronger. 2.5 out of 5 stars.