Bil’s rating (out of 5): B.5. USA/France, 2011. Summit Entertainment, Vendome Pictures, The Mark Gordon Company. Screenplay by Ben Ripley.Cinematography by Don Burgess. Produced by Mark Gordon, Philippe Rousselot, Jordan Wynn. Music by Chris Bacon. Production Design by Barry Chusid. Costume Design by Renee April. Film Editing by Paul Hirsch.
Jake Gyllenhaal wakes up on a Chicago commuter train with a girl he doesn’t know (Michelle Monaghan) who keeps calling him a name he does not recognize. After a few minutes, the train blows up because of a bomb, but instead of dying Gyllenhaal ends up in an alternate reality as a soldier. His superior officers Jeffrey Wright and Vera Farmiga have been sending him through time, thanks to some nifty brainwave technology, to relive the last eight minutes of one of the men who died in the real train bombing, and are hoping that Gyllenhaal can help find where the bomb is located and who set it off: it appears that in the real world, the culprit is preparing to do it again. Not that the twists end there, for this film has a whole heap of surprises to unleash upon you. Unfortunately, the soulless direction by Duncan Jones and unmotivated performance by a sleepwalking Gyllenhaal make for a painfully dry experience that then overextends its welcome in the last third and overdoes a ridiculously gimmicky plot. The film is neither concerned with its own cleverness, nor does it use a science-fiction premise to explore a human theme; Gyllenhaal figures things out too easily for the film to be said to really captivate the mind, while his relationship with Monaghan is so hands-off that it cannot be said that Source Code is concerned with romance either. It is a hollow film at its centre and hopelessly boring to sit through, a sort of unskilled mishmash of The Manchurian Candidate, Groundhog Day and Johnny Got His Gun but without any humour, intelligence or sympathy.