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Teen Review: ‘Source Code’

Too Many Unanswered Questions

Jake Gyllenhaal is a soldier who has eight minutes to figure out who a bomber...

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Above: Jake Gyllenhaal is a soldier who has eight minutes to figure out who a bomber is in "Source Code."

After seeing the original trailer to the movie "Source Code" (opened April 1 throughout San Diego), directed by Duncan Jones and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, well my expectations were kind of low.

"Source Code" is about a dying solider named Capt. Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) who wakes up in the body of an unknown man and discovers that he is being used against his will for a government experiment called "source code" (revealing any more would give away one of the film's twists). The experiment employs new technology that sends him back in time to relive a terrorist bombing of a train in Chicago. Stevens is sent through the source code to figure out who is responsible so that more terrorists attacks to come might be prevented. But he only has eight minutes to complete his mission.

The plot seemed exciting at first until I began to watch the actual film. Then it started to bore me because I knew what to expect as he is repeatedly sent back to the same situation each time. I was not impressed or excited. I don’t usually watch these types of movies yet I went in with an open mind.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Summit Entertainment

Michelle Monaghan wants to believe Jake Gyllenhaal in "Source Code."


In my opinion the "source code" technology is poorly explained. Apparently it's not a simulation nor is it time travel. I felt the director could have elaborated a littler more on the origin of source code and what it was rather what it wasn’t. The film contradicts itself because source code is supposed to be like reliving a memory and not time travel but when Capt. Stevens returns through the source code one final time he takes all of the knowledge he’s acquired and is able to change reality. So my question is, "If source code is not a part of actual reality how could Stevens have the ability to change history?!" It just doesn’t add up.


However, Gyllenhaal’s portrayal of a man desperately trying to figure out who among the many passengers is the potential mass murderer was actually funny and dead on. Watching him wander around in frenzy as he harassed random strangers was the most entertainment I got out of the film. Throughout the film Stevens constantly goes through the source code from reality again and again. It wasn’t exciting because I felt I already knew what would happen; it was predictable and as a movie lover I like to be surprised.

The special effects weren’t half bad. One of my favorite scenes, which is actually the grossest, is when someone gets smashed by the train and although you don’t actually see it the sounds of a skull being crushed definitely stuck out in my mind. Just watching the train approach at high speed towards a body lying on the tracks was pretty intense. I liked the slow motion, almost 3-D effect of the characters faces when the train was in mid-blast. It looked real and painful and unexpected.

"Source Code" (rated PG-13 for some violence including disturbing images, and for language) left me with many unanswered thoughts and questions. What exactly is the source code? How can it affect reality? However the ending of the film and how the director is able to capture the lesson of the film is heartwarming. He reminds us to make every minute in life count, especially if you’ve only got eight minutes left.

Safina Berry is a senior at Mount Miguel High School.

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