Source Code - Blu-ray Review

'the opportunity to exercise your brain as an audience member is a welcome one, especially considering some of the intellect-less blockbusters we've been treated to this year'

Like a good mystery thriller, Source Code's first two thirds keep you guessing about what is going on with ample skill and misdirection. There's the palpable feeling in Duncan Jones' second film that the director has you standing on a rug and at any moment is going to whip it from under you. It's a pleasant feeling. The 'what is going on' guessing game that Jones plays with you ensures that you engage with the film and the characters and the opportunity to exercise your brain as an audience member is a welcome one, especially considering some of the intellect-less blockbusters we've been treated to this year.

Jake Gyllenhaal's duel relationships with is she/isn't she alive Michelle Monaghan and is she/isn't she there to help him Vera Farmiga are key. There's little time here to establish warmth and character and the fact Gyllenhaal manages to strike up a rapport with both female leads is notable. Screenwriter Ben Ripley wisely keeps other characters to a minimum (there isn't enough time to develop anyone else), only really introducing us to the aforementioned trio and a character who may as well be called Dr. Exposition (Jeffrey Wright).

For all its skill at creating a decent thriller, this doesn't feel like it has much of note to add to the Science Fiction genre (as much as, say, Jones' previous film, Moon). There's some lip service paid to the logic of time travel but this is never expanded on and if Ripley's idea was to say 'time travel is silly: try this instead' then he doesn't spend long enough explaining exactly what his creation, the Source Code of the title, is. Ethical considerations of the impact on people's lives creep in towards the end but this feels rushed and under-developed and ultimately comes across as an afterthought.

Not that these moments are the worst the final third of Source Code has to offer. The finale feels tacked on, redundant and cloying. It struggles to make any sense narratively - a concept difficult to expand on without spoiling the film but consider how the two people present at the conclusion are going to be able to interact with each other - and ruins any sense of poignancy Jones could have created from a scene just moments earlier. It feels like a cop out and it ruins what is otherwise a very well produced slice of indie-like Science-Fiction.

Look further...

'Fast-paced, intelligent and suspenseful, Source Code is one of the better movies to come out this year' - The Warning Sign, 8/10


  1. The term 'cop out' is one I have read used repeatedly to describe the ending!! I thought Moon was quite a good original sci-fi movie and I enjoyed it immensely. But this was just oridnary and passed me by.
    I saw it after having seen a certain Audrey Hepburn and a dude called Cary Grant in Charade on the big screen several hours before hand. After that Source Code looked extremely poor.
    It is so typical of so many Hollywood movies in being so much less than what it could and should have been.

  2. Yes, I've read/heard a lot about it too and it is all with justification. It just feels incredibly wrong, doesn't make sense and doesn't fit with the tone of the rest of the film. Big shame.

    And MOON, I love MOON. Best film of 2009.

  3. *Spoilers*

    While I know this would leave quite a bit out there, I think this movie should have ended on the freeze kiss. That would have been 100% perfect. Otherwise, we're basically championing an ending where Jake Gyllenhaal possesses the body of a man and doesn't give it back - effectively killing him. Sure it's an alternate time line/universe thingie, but all the same he ceases to exist twice over.

  4. [Spoilers]

    Yes, completely agree that that's the scene it should have ended on - that scene feels like an ending for a start, rather than the wishy-washy nothing you actually get.

    The other problem with the logic of the end is that Gyllenhaal is now this guy that he's actually not. That might work for five minutes with Michelle Monaghan but what happens when he, like, needs to do the job he's not trained to do or, erm, find his house!?

  5. @Film Intel


    That's exactly what I thought when I saw the film in theatres. How's a military pilot going to teach History? How would he react to his parents? The ending is more disturbing than most people would think thanks to its rather saccharine denouement.

    I also don't think the film is as intelliegent at most people would have it be. Gyllenhaal comes across as a bit of dim bully, the terrorist is rather easy to suss out (a certain close up of an object is giveaway) and when Gyllenhaal does find the terrorist its very anti-climatic. The romance comes across as being hard to believe because we spend little time with them.

    I liked it but it definitely has its problems

  6. Agree with many points there. It's a nice blockbuster which keeps you involved with a simple mystery but you're right in that it doesn't really go much further than that. I think you care about the relationship as much as it is possible to but again, you're right in saying that its impact is limited thanks to the time pressures. I see your point on Gyllenhaal being a bully but I think in the main he does OK and I just read the physical stuff as him taking advantage of the fact that he can pretty much do what he wants.