Movie Review: SOURCE CODE

The new movie, SOURCE CODE, starring Jake Gyllenhall and Michelle Monaghan is an exciting science fiction thriller that really delivers. It's also a convincing love story.

The hero is an army helicopter pilot in Afghanistan who wakes up on a Chicago commuter train inside another man's body... during the last 8 minutes of that man's life.

Gyllenhall's character  can't believe his eyes when he looks into a bathroom mirror. But before he can begin to figure anything out a massive explosion rocks the train and finds himself transported to the inside of a downed helicopter. Two military officers talk to him from a video screen.   

"Where am I?" he asks.
"You are in the Source Code," a man's voice replies.
"What is the Source Code?"
"It's a computer program, Captain," says Vera Farmiga, the female who appears on the video screen.
"Source Code enables you to cross over into another man's identity in the last 8 minutes of his life," says the male voice.
The female officer continues" "At 7:48 this morning, a bomb exploded on a train outside Chicago, killing everyone on board. A man named Sean Fentriss was on that train. He is now you."
SOURCE CODE lives up to the promise of that terrific start as the disoriented hero desperately tries to prevent a terrorist bombing at the same time as he's falling in love with the woman (Michelle Monaghan) sitting across from him.

The set up is preposterous of course, but it's also fascinating.

Captain Stevens is sent back to the train over and over to see if he can find the bomb and the bomber. He's told that if he succeeds, he will prevent a bigger terrorist attack on the city of Chicago.

Again and again, Stevens scrambles through the last 8 minutes  before the train is demolished, a plot structure that resembles "Groundhog Day," but with a lot more jeopardy and only a  little comedy.

Inevitably, Stevens is drawn to Monaghan as Christina, a fellow commuter who doesn't know what to make of his strange behavior. She obviously knows Sean but not this overly earnest man claiming to be Captain Colter Stevens.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed SOURCE CODE. The script is inspired; Gyllenhall and Monaghan are terrific, and the filmmaking is top notch.