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"Source Code" Review

Part Groundhog Day, part The Matrix, part Quantum Leap, director Duncan Jones' (fka Zowie Bowie, David's son) follow-up to the underseen gem Moon (with an Oscar-overlooked performance by Sam Rockwell) is an occasionally provocative, though ultimately insubstantial and inconsistent if you really think of the logic it portrays.

Jake Gyllenhaal wakes up on a train and discovers he's in another man's body. While trying to figure out what's going on, the train explodes and wakes up strapped in what looks like a wrecked plane. He's an Army chopper pilot in Afghanistan, so what's going on. Vera Farmiga appears on a monitor and asks him about the explosion and then tells him he's going back and has 8 minutes to find the bomber so they can prevent a greater tragedy. The story then rinses and repeats.

The way they show Jake rapidly cutting through the early stages of each trip into the source code simulation is logical, but when you see who the bomber is, you realize that the premise has a logic gap you could drop a bomb-laden train car through. Without spoiling things, if it is possible to capture the residual memories of people after they've died, then the bomber shouldn't be present in the recreation since he's not dead at the scene, no matter what the found wallet implies. Also, the revelation about what Jake's condition is, while somewhat ballsy, falls apart when you actually see how he is; it's frankly medically impossible.

Then there's the pretty girl, played by Michelle Monaghan. Why is he smitten with a girl he never spends more than a couple of minutes with? Why save her? Because she's cute? What if she's a psycho hose beast and it only becomes obvious to everyone after they've endured her for 10 minutes? The final trip through the Matrix, er, source code also breaks the rules they've set up along the entire story. (Something similar happened with Minority Report and the leap didn't do that film any favors either.)

While it's not as good as Moon, it's an OK rental for those with a decent tolerance level for inconsistency. Good performances, including the always awesome Jeffrey Wright, and a neat idea; too bad they don't stick the landing. Maybe next time. (Heh.)

Score: 6/10. Rent it.

In an inspired meta detail, Jake's father is played on the phone by none other than Scott Bakula. (Think about it. Hilarious, no?)


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