Critical Cavalier: “Source Code” keeps you guessing

Tom Andrew

Sgt. Chris Colter (Jake Gyllenhaal) is given a mission: find a bomb on a Chicago commuter train and find out who the bomber is before he is able to set another one to go off. Colter has eight minutes to accomplish his mission, and if he doesn’t, he will be sent back again until he does.

Colter is part of a program called Source Code. It’s a program that is run by a Dr. Rutledge (Jeffery Wright) and Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) and allows him to access the brain of a deceased man on that train for eight minutes and get that information.

While on the train he learns his name is Sean Fentress, and he is there with Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan). Every time he is sent back to the train he learns more about Christina and the others on that train. His mission goes from finding the bomber to wanting to save the life of Christina and of those on the train as well.

Why he has been chosen for this mission is something he doesn’t know. In fact there seems to be a lot of things that Colter doesn’t know or remember. As the film and his mission unfold we, the audience, find out these answers when he does. We end up just as confused as he is and have as many questions as he has.

“Source Code” is a film that can be looked at a few ways. Simply put, it’s a sci-fi thriller that will keep you entertained until the very end. But it’s also a film that challenges the mind.

If we could stop terrorism, wouldn’t we? If there was a way to utilize the brain of a deceased person to get that information, how far would we go to make it happen?

“Source Code” makes us think about that.

Jake Gyllenhaal of “Brokeback Mountain,” “The Good Girl” and cult classic “Donnie Darko” gives Colter just the right amount of pathos, confusion and desire to make us follow him throughout his quest.

Michelle Monaghan (“Eagle Eye”) runs the gamut of emotions as Christina. Her scenes could have been easily forgotten, but she stands on her own in a role that could easily have been thankless and forgetful.

The same can be said for Oscar nominee Farmiga. Her role is important, and in her capable hands she brings warmth and class to a character that could have been trite and boring.

UK director Duncan Jones proves that his first feature “Moon” was no fluke. “Code” moves swiftly and clearly with each transition and is easy to follow. Screenwriter Ben Ripley has written a complex script that works well at first glance. However, if you plan to delve deeper into the message of the film and what it all means, you may find yourself with as many questions as Ripley’s hero Colter.

4 out of 5 stars