Step inside the "Source Code"

April 4, 2011, 11:21 a.m. | By Valerie Hu | 11 years, 11 months ago

A nonlinear sequence keeps the action intense

Fans of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "Memento" will rejoice after viewing Duncan Jones' latest sci-fi film, "Source Code," which one could dub "Inception 2.0." Aside from its mediocre special effects, the movie's nonlinear sequence and fast-paced action keep audiences enthralled.

Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up on board a train in the body of another man, Sean Fentress, just eight minutes before the Chicago bound vehicle is bombed. After the bombing, Stevens wakes up in a chamber and discovers that he is part of a government program "Source Code" and assigned to uncover the culprit behind the train's bombing as well as prevent another imminent bombing. While inside the "Source Code," Stevens relives the last eight minutes of another man's life. Every time he is transported back to the train, he finds himself trapped inside Fentress' body. Each jump starts off in the same setting. Stevens is greeted by a woman who he soon comes to know, Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan) and the same events occur in the same order. After each of these jumps, alternate realities are created, in which Stevens simultaneously exists as different people.

"Source Code" is the little brother of "Memento." Its nonlinear sequence is surely confusing, but as events start repeating and more information is revealed, audiences get a glimpse of who the bomber is as well as Stevens' true role in the Source Code. The story's timeline – or lack thereof – is what makes the action so exhilarating. Ingeniously, by the end of the film, it's obvious that the plot would not make sense without presenting the events in such a twisted fashion.

The film's odd sequencing of events is not the only thing that makes it stand out among others of its kind. The soundtrack perfectly complements the high-action nature of the movie, thanks to composer Chris P. Bacon. The orchestral sounds build suspense in all the right scenes, which is a prerequisite for all superior sci-fi films.

In addition, Gyllenhaal successfully portrays a soldier turned time-defying government guinea pig in a variety of scenarios . Whether he is making audiences believe that simultaneously existing in alternate realities is possible, locked in combat, or jumping off trains, Gyllenhaal's acting compensates for the artificial chemistry between Gyllenhaal's and Monaghan's characters. Stevens and Warren's romance is forced and out-of-place, unlike the rest of the movie which flows despite its far-from-chronological order. After all, what is a Hollywood blockbuster film without its required dose of cliché-ridden dialogue? Although the film's so-called romantic ending is borderline cheesy, it is definitely forgivable because the writers are creative with the rest of the movie.

Aside from the anti-climatic ending, the film's special effects are the only other element not up to par. With such an action-packed explosion-heavy plot, "Source Code" demands special effects that resemble actual explosions – not the kind that are made using Windows Movie Maker.

Watching "Source Code" is like taking a trip for the mind, where each trip seems familiar, but is a little different and requires a whole lot of thinking. If you are not a fan of the nonlinear sequence, don't let it scare you away from the movie. Between Gyllenhaal's remarkable acting and mind maze-esque plot, "Source Code" is certainly worth watching. If nothing else interests you, you can look forward to the always-hilarious Russell Peters being attacked by Gyllenhaal on the train.

"Source Code" is rated PG-13 for some violence, disturbing images and language. Now playing in theaters everywhere.

Valerie Hu. Valerie Hu loves pasta, beaches and laughing with friends. She draws inspiration from traveling, whether she is in Paris or in Disney World. Like the blog, she appreciates the little things in life. She aspires to one day receive as many candy canes as Glen … More »

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