Film Review: SOURCE CODE

Directed by Duncan Jones
Written by Ben Ripley
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright

Sometimes Hollywood gets it right and this is a perfect example of it. I must admit upfront I am a sucker for GROUNDHOG DAY and its conceit that humans can get it right if given a million tries. When a thriller like SOURCE CODE infuses its story with intelligent characters that engage with each other, excellent writing and an exciting narrative what’s not to like. It doesn’t even really matter than I cannot explain exactly what happened here any more than I can explain string theory.

PLOT: Navy pilot, Colter, on a mission in Afghanistan, suddenly finds himself on a commuter train going into Chicago. The attractive girl, Christina, (Monaghan) seated across from him knows him, but as another person. And that same other person stares back at him from the bathroom mirror seconds later. Within eight minutes, (time Colter gives over to trying to figure out what has happened to him), the train explodes and he is suddenly whisked away to another location where Goodwin (Farmiga), a scientist explains his new mission.

He will return again and again to that hurtling train, trying to discover who the terrorist is and preventing him from launching a far greater attack. Each trip will reveal a bit more of activity on the car and it also allows a relationship to grow between Colter and Christina. To tell you any more would risk exposing too much of the plot as well as my lack of completely understanding it.

It doesn’t matter though. SOURCE CODE is ingenious both in its plot and its ability to carry you along. Duncan’s earlier movie MOON shared some of the same traits. But that film was static compared to this one. Highly recommended.


Patti Abbott writes crime fiction short stories. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at She hopes you’ll join in.