Debugging the Bomb
"Source Code" is like someone taking a bit of "Groundhog Day" and turning it into a mind fuck thriller as we have a young man waking up in someone else's body 8 minutes before a bomb goes off. Now that is a good idea because it then serves up two storylines, we have the fun of the thriller as we watch Colter Stevens try and work out who the bomber is, reliving those 8 minutes over and over again and this is tied into the mystery of what has actually happened to him. But then we also get the bonus of the mind fuck side as we have this set up of being able to relive these 8 minutes of time again and again and whether or not actions in those 8 minutes will change the outcome of things. They work well together but in the recent influx of these mind fuck movies the fact that you can get your head around "Source Code" easier than some of the others makes it entertaining but less memorable.
US Chopper pilot Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal - Zodiac) remembers flying in Afghanistan which is why when he wakes up on a train heading in to Chicago sitting opposite the pretty Christina (Michelle Monaghan - Due Date) he is confused. He is even more confused when the train explodes and the next thing he knows he is in some form of a pod being fed instructions by a woman called Goodwin (Vera Farmiga - Up in the Air) who tells him to go back and work out who the bomber is. Slowly Colter discovers what is going on as he is part of a military experiment being used to try and prevent a terrorist attack which allows him to live the last 8 minutes of another man's life over and again in order to try and work out who the bomber is. But he is confused by what has happened to him and why when he relives those 8 minutes he can't try and save the passengers on the train.
First up "Source Code" is a clever thriller which does a nice job of incorporating elements of "Groundhog Day" into it as we have through science and technology Colter being able to relive 8 minutes of another man's life over and over again. We watch as each time he relives it certain things from a spilt coffee to the ticket collector remain the same and become part of a routine. But then we have the first part of this entertaining story which is Colter discovering who the bomber is, learning a bit more each time he relives those 8 minutes. Now in a way it is inevitable that eventually he will work it out but we have fun along the way as we also get to work out who the bomber is. In fact it is so well worked you wonder whether there is going to be a killer twist to this.
But running alongside the story of Colter discovering who the bomber is we also have more because we have the mystery over where Colter is and what has happened to him. Now to be honest you can quickly guess what the truth is about Colter's situation, it is less than subtle when it comes to the caginess in which his questions are answered by Goodwin but it then adds a nice twist. And here we have the mind fuck bit because of the technology and the concept that what Colter does when he relives those 8 minutes will not affect the direct outcome of those minutes. The thing I like the most about this is that "Source Code" makes you think, makes you try and work out the logic of it all and then right at the end makes it clear.
Now at the centre of all this is Jake Gyllenhaal as Colter and it is a nice performance from Gyllenhaal giving us a confused man who is not only trying to make sense of what is happening to him but also find a way to solve who the bomber is. But the actual character is in many ways a generic character, a normal guy who is not an action hero but does some action stuff. In a way the characters, and alongside Colter we have Michelle Monaghan as Christina and Vera Farmiga as Goodwin, are a let down because they are ordinary and that makes them forgettable.
What this all boils down to is that "Source Code" is entertaining and does a nice job of taking a "Groundhog Day" style concept and turning it into a mind fuck thriller. But whilst entertaining and thrilling and to be honest well thought out it is forgettable and it just lacks that something extra to make it truly stand out from the crowd.