Seen takes a look at the shows I have seen in person.
Being a little detached from mainstream media, I really had no idea that Source Code even existed as a film, but invited to go with some friends to see the movie, I decided to chance it and headed out to the theater. I found an interesting premise, some muddling science, some unfocused (and sometimes cheap) storytelling, a lack of urgency, but wrapped up in a pretty slick package with a touch of thoughtful science fiction. However, I think the lack of narrative focus constantly distracted me with a whole lot of questions that were raised and never answered and probably kept me from really getting into the film.
The premise is this: Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up on a train, disoriented and confused and quickly discovers that he is not himself. The train blows up and he finds that he's on a mission to discover who the bomber of the train is before he sets off a bigger bomb. Meanwhile, he struggles to discover the truth about the branch of the military he's working for, what happened to him and to resolve something with his father. And, determine the nature of the "Source Code".
That was a pretty hard description to write up. If you asked me what this story was about, I would be hard pressed to come up with a pointed answer. And therein lies part of the problem with the Source Code. Even with its solid premise about finding the bomber of a destroyed train--mind you, there is a whole lot of sci-fi handwaving going on here, which is more than a little frustrating--which really could have been improved by simplifying the story so that it's about stopping the bomber of the train, which would have amped up the stakes, the film doesn't even run with the those stakes, adding a layer of unnecessary mystery, unfounded romance and straight up schmaltz into the mix that makes the film neither one thing or the other and the result ends up being a rather strange chimera with too many heads wanting to take the film in too many directions. Which raises too many questions about the point of it all and saps the film of much of its fun potential. It's not so much that Source Code has layers, but rather just decided to throw everything it could into the pot and hope that it cooks well together.
At least the directing was clean, the production tight and the acting believable, although some characters really veered into one-note territory, like the scientist, Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright), complete with visual substitute for characterization. The film was also edited well enough that it kept suspense pacing, even as the story was so poorly constructed to drive such suspense.
Oh, and the ending is a headscratcher, not in that it blows your mind by the awe of what it presents, but because not only does it raise some serious questions about the ethics espoused by the film, but it's completely unnecessary for the story and kind of comes out of nowhere. Still, the film does manage enough mild entertainment that I don't hate it. It's just that it's unfocused approach combined with a premise with actual promise makes the whole effort, in the end, kind of disappointing. 5/10.