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Rated 2.97 stars
by 163 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Suspenseful Quantum Thriller
by Betty Jo Tucker

Quantum genre films lead us to believe anything is possible. In Source Code, we see that idea played out in a suspenseful sci-fi thriller directed by Duncan Jones and starring Jake Gyllenhaal. We may feel befuddled while watching this movie because so much of what’s happening seems weird and obscure to us, but we can’t help feeling fascinated and eager to connect the dots. However, as in all quantum genre offerings, the unusual style of the piece assumes more importance than all those dots put together.  

Source Code piques our interest right away as an injured soldier (Gyllenhaal) gets thrust repeatedly back in time to inhabit someone else’s body in order to find a bomb -- and bomber -- before a commuter train headed for Chicago explodes. Yes, this violates everything we know about the ordinary rules of nature, but our hero’s biggest problem involves having only 8 minutes for each “thrust.” It’s like the other side of a Groundhog Day coin. With every visit, the soldier finds new information. And with every return, he asks more questions about what’s really happening to him, where he’s actually located, and who’s in charge.

Gyllenhaal’s performance as the confused but dedicated soldier comes across as one of the best so far this year – and his best since Moonlight Mile. Gyllenhaal projects the right combination of emotional turmoil and strength of character to make this difficult role work for us despite the bizarre situation depicted in the film.

In movies like Source Code, the key actors must be completely believable or the film fails to trigger our suspension of disbelief. Fortunately, along with Gyllenhaal, other cast members help make everything on screen seem real. Michelle Monaghan (Trucker) is lovely and charming as a train passenger the soldier wants to save; Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air) keeps us guessing about her “trying-to-be-no-nonsense” character; and Jeffrey Wright (Cadillac Records) holds his own as a scientist onto something even bigger than he can imagine. 

I’m pleased that director Jones (Moon) and screenwriter Ben Ripley (Species: The Awakening) understand the significance of change, ambiguity, and alternate realities in quantum genre works. Kudos for the twists and turns they include in Source Code. As a result, I’m placing it among my quantum genre film favorites -- along with The Fountain Mulholland Drive and Sliding Doors.        

(Released by Summit Entertainment and rated “PG-13” for violence including disturbing images, and for language.)

For more information about Source Code, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.    

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