You awaken on a train. You don’t know where you are or how you got there. Sitting in front of you is a young woman who seems to know you.
You try and get your bearings. When you see your reflection, you don’t look like who you know yourself to be. Then an explosion rips the train apart. You awaken again, but this time inside of a capsule. An Army officer is talking to you on a video screen.
Welcome to the Source Code.
“Source Code” is the science-fiction offspring of “Groundhog Day.” Jake Gyllenhaal is either Sean, the rider on the train, or Capt. Colter Stevens, the man in the capsule. What he learns is that he has been placed on the train to learn the identity of the bomber.
The train blew up, but this new Army program allows the military to place a person on the train. He is to find the identity and report it back to his superiors. Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) is his contact when he’s in the capsule. The bomber’s identity is needed because later in the day that bomber will detonate a “dirty bomb” in the city.
When Sean appears on the train, the young woman in front of him is Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan), one of Sean’s co-workers. Her presence stirs feelings in him.
As the movie progresses, the same segment of time repeats – over and over. Each time, Sean/Colter learns more about the bomb, and each time his feelings for Christina grow.
You have to be careful what you say in a synopsis about this movie. It becomes too revealing when you try to tell what the movie is about and what goes on in it.
First, this movie does not have a deeper meaning like “Groundhog Day.” There are no moral lessons about time and growth as a person. Sadly, it misses that opportunity.
It’s a traditional Hollywood movie with a typical Hollywood ending. And that is the movie’s undoing.
What is unique and wonderful about the movie all falls apart at the end. It moves from verging on iconoclastic to being clichéd. There is such hope for this story, but it doesn’t pan out in the end.
Gyllenhaal and Monaghan show real chemistry as they struggle through the paces of the story, and it’s their chemistry that partially saves the ending. Only partially, though. It still left me cold.
Director Duncan Jones showed much promise with his first feature, “Moon.” I hope he does similar good work in his next outing.
Mike Parnell is pastor of Beth Car Baptist Church in Halifax, Va.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence including disturbing images, and for language.
Director: Duncan Jones
Writer: Ben Ripley
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal: Sean/Colter Stevens; Michelle Monaghan: Christina Warren; Vera Farmiga: Colleen Goodwin; Jeffery Wright: Dr. Rutledge.
The movie’s website is here.
Michael Parnell is pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is married and has two boys. His love is for movies, and he can be found in a theater most Fridays.