Monday, April 11, 2011

Film Review: Source Code

Following a publishing glitch, my review of the hard-SF short-story collection Engineering Infinity has now been posted at

The Old Bristol Road from Wells to Bristol is charmingly rustic, running alongside Chew Valley Lake and entering Bristol via a steep descent at Dundry. It took us less than an hour to get to the Cribbs Causeway Vue where we enjoyed 'Source Code'. Here's how Wikipedia describes the start of the story.

"Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a decorated army helicopter pilot whose last memory is of his recent mission in Afghanistan, flying with his team while taking on enemy gunfire. He awakens on a train headed for Chicago with no memory of how he arrived there. His reflection is of a different man and his wallet says his name is Sean Fentress. Sitting across from him is a woman named Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan) who seems to know him as history teacher Sean Fentress. Before he can understand what is happening, a bomb goes off and destroys the train."

It turns out that Colter is within a simulation based on the memories of the last eight minutes of Sean Fentress's life. He is sent back again and again into those memories with a mission to find the bomb and the bomber to avert an even greater threat to Chicago. To Colter's surprise, the simulation is malleable: as he relives the train experience he learns the sequence of events and can act to change it: recurrences are different every time. Is this just a simulation, as the Source Code mission team seems to believe, or is he occupying alternate histories of the quantum multiverse? (What do you think?)

Although a couple of people (obviously of little imagination) walked out before the end, we thought the film was great. It's thought-provoking and exciting in equal measure and it even manages to end happily - amazing for a movie where everything is based on damage and death.