Dave White
Source Code Review

Dave's Rating:

4.0

Mind control. The good kind.

Who's In It: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright, Michael Arden

The Basics: Jake Gyllenhaal is Captain Colter Stevens (points off for the porny soap opera name), whose consciousness has just woken up inside the body of a history teacher on a Chicago commuter train. As that teacher, JG has to find a mega-bomb hidden on the train, defuse it, then find the terrorist before that person detonates an even bigger bomb inside the city limits. And he has eight minutes to do it. Each time he fails he has to go back and repeat the process, Groundhog Day-style (through a scenario operated by the military known as "Source Code") until he gets it right. But the longer he takes the more likely the possibility that the terrorist will escape the train and set off the city-destroying explosion. So the stakes are somewhat higher than simply not scoring with Andie MacDowell.

What’s The Deal: Duncan Jones is the man behind this thing and he’s a name worth getting to know. He made the mind-scratching space odyssey Moon with Sam Rockwell—a movie that needs to be in your Netflix queue--and this, his second feature (one featuring a significantly bigger budget), is fast, cool, exciting and smart in ways you won’t expect. The mechanics are very Inceptiony and Avatarish and on trend, with semi-confusing explanations/non-explanations for how Gyllenhaal can be manipulating future reality by retreating into the past in his mind. But it's the heart and guts you'll really respond to when the logic starts to fail.

Biggest Surprise: It’s moving. And you think that might not matter, but it does. It’s one reason the dead-inside Sucker Punch (another movie where the otherwise powerless protagonist was shaping reality with mere thoughts) was a failure. The people here have reasons to do what they’re doing and the imaginary stakes are easily adapted to all the real world, post-9/11 fears and melancholy “what if” fantasies the audience will bring to it. Jones did the same thing with Moon, so turning cold, metallic, fantasy sci-fi humane seems to be one of his strengths.

Permission To Overact: Jeffrey Wright’s character, the introverted inventor of the “Source Code” program, is full of tics and twitches and funny-voiced line readings. He’s too good an actor to be this much of a ham, but you kind of don’t mind, because by overdoing it he brings some humor to the table. (Gyllenhaal employs simple, unshaven cockiness to accomplish the same task. Not sure which is more difficult.)

One Nagging Question: Not that it matters too much in the long run, but if Gyllenhaal’s mind and soul are in some random history teacher, then what happened to that other guy’s consciousness? And what if that other guy never intended to make out with Michelle Monaghan? I know, spoiler.

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Comments (11)

DrunKenG - 4-01-2011 3:19 PM
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I really thought the movie was predictable before the first train explosion on who was planting the bomb... What was interesting was how the main character pieced together on which military division was making him find the bomber.

michelle - 4-01-2011 5:41 PM
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I recently read a critique from Dave White, and find he is really funny. I enjoy his word play, and 'points off for...'. Now, he is the only critic whose opinion I value to determine whether to see / not see a movie. Based on the description above, I'll go see source code.

James - 4-01-2011 9:22 PM
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I won't go see this movie due to the fact that it's time cop/ next/ Deja Vu all rolled up in one. First off Jake as a main actor is not very good in a action suspense thriller. Number 2 the idea of him reliving the same incident over and over is just over done. Hence Bill Murray should be pissed because they are taking Ground Hogs Day and replacing him for Jake G. Then it turns into a love story where Jake wants to save a woman. Just do the damn job you were hired to do besides I thought you only have like 8 minutes. That is not enough time to fall in love with a woman but maybe a quickie wouldn't be a bad idea. LOL.

William - 4-01-2011 11:16 PM
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Dave White is the only movie reviewer that I trust. I read almost all his reviews on this site. And if you ever fire him or if he just leaves you, I suspect your internet site - movies.com is toast. William

MEEfO - 4-02-2011 4:59 PM
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William is not far off. Movies.com let Dave go once and the fans revolted. They hired him back like a week later. True story. RE: The Source Code. As everyone already pointed out, this has been done to death. Groundhog Day, of course, but there was even an X-Files episode where a criminal blows up a bank with Mulder inside and he has to relive the same day over and over again to stop the event. Too similar. I like Duncan Jones--loved Moon anyway--but this is awfully derivative and Jake Gyllenhaal is just awful.

moviegoer - 4-02-2011 5:30 PM
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I loved this movie. I wondered what happened to the soul of the teacher at the end, too, but I think the final point of the movie is there are several, parallel universes happening, so the teacher is still going about his life in another. Well, actually he's dead in some of them. Jake's character instructs Goodwin to let him be used in future source code missions because he understands that he can live through other parallel universes this way, too, plus he's good at what he does.

James Blattler - 4-03-2011 1:51 PM
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Stop commenting when you have not seen the movie. It's pretty good and entertaining. But if you hate it before you see it then I guess you will never like it. Dave is a good reviewer but too too liberal and knows too much about movies for me to relate sometime. I think we should let everyone kiss his feet after ever review he does.

moviefan - 4-04-2011 1:15 PM
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Loved this movie. Yes, the premise has been done many times before, but Duncan Jones made it his own. Bravo for making it feel fresh. And the actors did a great job. If you've seen a lot of films like this, it'll be predictable, but you still end up rooting for good guys in the end.

Taylor - 4-11-2011 1:54 AM
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yeah, i agree....'knowing too much about movies' seems like a real downfall for a professional movie reviewer. :/ dave- i've never posted on this site before, but i read your reviews all the time. love 'em and keep 'em coming.

Morse Code - 4-20-2011 4:51 PM
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Imma skip the movie and read more o' Dave's reviews. It's like porn without the nudity and sex.

Joe - 5-17-2011 11:30 PM
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Finally caught this; your review was spot on. Great acting, and I really liked the soundtrack. The premise has been done before, but ... so has everything else. It was entertaining and surprisingly moving.

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