Film Review: Source Code [dir: Duncan Jones; 2011]

I can't make up my mind about the basic premise of Source Code: it may be clever, or it may be deeply flawed. An American soldier (amiably played by Jake Gyllenhaal) finds himself on a train, sitting opposite a woman he doesn't recognise. Within moments, he realises he isn't the person everyone else seems to think he is. In fact, when he looks at himself in a mirror, the face staring back at him isn't his own. A bomb explodes on the train, killing all the passengers... at which point our soldier wakes up inside a capsule and is informed that he wasn't really on the train at all. He'd actually been transported into the residual memory of one of the train's dead passengers (I kid you not) so that he could attempt to identify the bomber and avert any further attacks. As far as ideas go, this one isn't any more fantastical than that of, say, Inception. But the sci-fi geek in me wants a more plausible explanation for why it's possible for certain events in the story to take place. On more than occasion, I found myself getting into a mental tangle brought on by a preoccupation with questions like, "Yes, but if he's over there, and that guy's dead, then how come he can get off the train and see things that the dead guy never saw..." etc etc. In the end, I gave up and allowed myself to get swept along by the narrative's considerable force. As far as mainstream sci-fi movies go, this is nowhere near the moronic territory of most Hollywood fare, but a similar subject was handled more memorably by Terry Gilliam in 12 Monkeys.


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