Andy Bockelman: ‘Source Code’ is intriguing, but too easy to crack | CraigDailyPress.com
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Andy Bockelman: ‘Source Code’ is intriguing, but too easy to crack

“Source Code”

2 out of 4 stars

94 minutes

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright.

“Source Code”

2 out of 4 stars

94 minutes

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright.



What do you get when you combine the stories of “12 Monkeys,” “Quantum Leap” and “Groundhog Day,” shake them up and dump them out again?

Sift through the leftovers to find the basic concept of “Source Code” and fill in the blanks as needed.



Army pilot Capt. Coulter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) isn’t feeling like himself today.

His sense of disillusion may have something to do with awakening on a Chicago-bound commuter train with no memory of how he got there. It could be the fellow passenger (Michelle Monaghan) who doesn’t seem to know who he really is.

Or it could be the fact that when he sees his reflection, someone else (Frédérick De Grandpré) is staring back at him. But, before he can even start asking any questions, the mystery train explodes and he is revived in an equally unexplainable chamber with a military envoy (Vera Farmiga) giving him instructions.

As he comes to learn, the enclosure is a techno-pod that enables its user to operate the Source Code, a computer program that makes short-term time travel possible, in this instance, jumping back to the train’s incineration from a bomb.

Through the code, Stevens — who has been selected because of his physical likeness to one of the train’s passengers — is expected to use the last eight minutes before the explosion to determine what caused it and how to prevent the bomber from causing more damage.

As he keeps getting sent back to the same point in time, Stevens sets his mind to completing his task, but his true concern is how he wound up involved in such a mission in the first place.

If “Donnie Darko” is any indication, Gyllenhaal is the guy you want to play a hero who struggles with the very nature of his reality. While in the confines of the Source Code, you can see the wheels turning as he tries to piece together the investigation at hand, but almost more important is the distraction afforded to him by the rest of the people on the train.

Monaghan is good but underused as Christina, a casual acquaintance of Stevens’ alter ego, with whom he quickly falls in love, vowing to protect from the imminent explosion.

Good luck with that, since the Source Code exists only as a memory and can’t change the future in the real world.

But, that doesn’t mean he can’t keep trying.

Farmiga functions well as his technological liaison, Capt. Colleen Goodwin, who remains tight-lipped about Stevens’ foray into such a job while communicating to him entirely through a webcam. But, she’s still much more compassionate than the scientist (Jeffrey Wright) who created the Source Code, who is dead-set on using the tool beyond its test run no matter what the consequences.

A human guinea pig is just one of the recurring elements used in “Moon” director Duncan Jones’ second movie.

Playing around with alternate timelines skewing from one point is slightly different than his striking science fiction debut, especially since he quickly establishes a set of guidelines for the Source Code.

But, rules are meant to be broken and Jones falls into that old trap of trying to overturn a premise that’s already solid. Without Stevens trying to change the past, there really is no plot, and everything else that springs from the central idea hinges on the promise that the protagonist is still going to find a way.

If anything, his claustrophobic experiences in his special compartment are more worthwhile than when he gets sent back into the fray. But, at least after a few trips, he gets to know the rhythms of the passengers, such as who is going to spill coffee on his shoe.

Yawn.

Jones takes things in the wrong direction, and just like the bomb aboard the train, it blows up in his face. Granted, Ben Ripley’s screenplay finds a neat little way to get out of the snag caused by the rest of the story, but you can’t get from Point A to Point B and expect everything else to just fall into place.

Although there’s an intelligent approach to “Source Code,” the end result looks like it’s been the victim of a computer virus. Perhaps Jones can find a chamber of his own to climb into and try to change any given eight minutes in the movie.

If one thing leads to another, the switch could be quite beneficial.

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