Source Code (Duncan Jones, 2011): USA

Reviewed by William Conlin. Viewed on DVD.

In my entire life I never thought that while describing a movie to someone I would utter the words: “Groundhog Day meets Die Hard” and even if that were to happen I never imagined I would proceed to tell that person how much I enjoyed said movie. In this case I am referring to Duncan Jones’ stunning sophomore feature Source Code.

Source Code stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Colter Stevens, a US Army helicopter pilot who finds himself reliving the last 8 minutes of another man’s life over and over again. The man he is “possessing” is a victim of a train bombing earlier that morning and each time the train blows up, Colter finds himself in a strange pod speaking with a fellow soldier (Vera Farmiga) on a view screen. He soon learns that he is part of a secret government program that allows him to revisit the past to try and attain information on future events. He also learns that the train bombing is in fact a precursor to a nuclear attack on Chicago. But the more Colter uses “The Source Code”, the more he becomes interested in saving a beautiful female passenger (Michelle Monaghan) than with saving the world.

Surprisingly Source Code is already on track to being one of my favorite films of this year. It was extremely well made, well performed and a true thrill to watch. Director Duncan Jones shows his incredible eye for filmmaking and truly keeps the audience on the edge of their seat.

Jake Gyllenhaal delivers an excellent performance as the confused/trapped hero trying to save a train full of people and Vera Farmiga is subtlety brilliant as a soldier fighting an inner battle with her morals. In supporting roles, Michelle Monaghan is endearing as the victim we have to watch die over and over again and Jeffrey Wright is intolerable as the hard-nosed scientist who cares more about success than lives.

With a theatrical release date all the way back in April I doubt Source Code will see much attention in this year’s awards race. But if by some miracle it does, it is well deserved. Barring some incredible filmmaking I will no doubt have this on my “2011 Top Ten List” and I hope to see it on many others.

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