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Source Code

John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

Michelle Monaghan and Jake Gyllenhaal star in "Source Code."
Taut direction by Duncan Jones and game performances all around help disguise the logical conundrums underlying the time travel-themed sci-fi thriller "Source Code" (Summit).

As for the musings on life, death and parallel existences that crop up in Ben Ripley's screenplay, these are too confused either to challenge or reinforce beliefs of any stripe. Instead we're left—as the closing credits roll—with a perfectly acceptable, though hardly original, message about seizing the day.

At the other end of the film's sometimes grim and often claustrophobic proceedings, we're as befuddled as he is when heroic Afghan War veteran Capt. Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) awakens to find himself inhabiting the body of a stranger. Accompanied, apparently, by his girlfriend (Michelle Monaghan), said alter ego is a passenger on a Chicago-bound commuter train.

Long before Stevens can even begin to figure out what he's doing there, however, the train is suddenly engulfed by a huge explosion, with obviously fatal consequences for everyone on board.

Jolted awake again—this time in an environment that resembles the helicopter he pilots in combat—Stevens gradually discovers that he's part of a cutting-edge antiterrorism operation being run by Air Force Capt. Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga).

As Goodwin explains via a video hookup, Stevens' task is to keep reliving the last eight minutes of the other man's life until he can identify the plotter who bombed the train, thereby forestalling a far worse follow-up attack.

The technology enabling Stevens to do so has been developed by Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright), an obviously over-intense, perhaps quasi-mad military scientist with an interest in harnessing the "afterglow" of dying people's consciousness.

As "Groundhog Day" meets a Kafka novel, the downbeat atmosphere is offset by an emphasis on Stevens' humanity. Thus we witness him falling for Monaghan's character in one reality—their unique circumstances, needless to say, preclude any premarital shenanigans—and soliciting Goodwin's help to reconnect with his estranged father in the other.

Both experiences eventually involve a blurring of chronology—not to mention the relation of cause and effect—that defies sober analysis. But most viewers will likely be happy enough with the surface entertainment on offer not to ask too many probing questions.

The film contains recurring action violence, some of it potentially disturbing, brief gory medical images, about a half-dozen uses of profanity, at least one instance of the F-word and some crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.


Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

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Charles de Foucauld: Born into an aristocratic family in Strasbourg, France, Charles was orphaned at the age of six, raised by his devout grandfather, rejected the Catholic faith as a teenager and joined the French army. Inheriting a great deal of money from his grandfather, Charles went to Algeria with his regiment, but not without his mistress, Mimi. <br /><br />When he declined to give her up, he was dismissed from the army. Still in Algeria when he left Mimi, Charles reenlisted in the army. Refused permission to make a scientific exploration of nearby Morocco, he resigned from the service. With the help of a Jewish rabbi, Charles disguised himself as a Jew and in 1883 began a one-year exploration that he recorded in a book that was well received. <br /><br />Inspired by the Jews and Muslims whom he met, Charles resumed the practice of his Catholic faith when he returned to France in 1886. He joined a Trappist monastery in Ardeche, France, and later transferred to one in Akbes, Syria. Leaving the monastery in 1897, Charles worked as gardener and sacristan for the Poor Clare nuns in Nazareth and later in Jerusalem. In 1901 he returned to France and was ordained a priest. <br /><br />Later that year Charles journeyed to Beni-Abbes, Morocco, intending to found a monastic religious community in North Africa that offered hospitality to Christians, Muslims, Jews, or people with no religion. He lived a peaceful, hidden life but attracted no companions. <br /><br />A former army comrade invited him to live among the Tuareg people in Algeria. Charles learned their language enough to write a Tuareg-French and French-Tuareg dictionary, and to translate the Gospels into Tuareg. In 1905 he came to Tamanrasset, where he lived the rest of his life. A two-volume collection of Charles' Tuareg poetry was published after his death. <br /><br />In early 1909 he visited France and established an association of laypeople who pledged to live by the Gospels. His return to Tamanrasset was welcomed by the Tuareg. In 1915 Charles wrote to Louis Massignon: “The love of God, the love for one’s neighbor…All religion is found there…How to get to that point? Not in a day since it is perfection itself: it is the goal we must always aim for, which we must unceasingly try to reach and that we will only attain in heaven.”   <br /><br />The outbreak of World War I led to attacks on the French in Algeria. Seized in a raid by another tribe, Charles and two French soldiers coming to visit him were shot to death on December 1, 1916. <br />Five religious congregations, associations, and spiritual institutes (Little Brothers of Jesus, Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Little Sisters of Jesus, Little Brothers of the Gospel and Little Sisters of the Gospel) draw inspiration from the peaceful, largely hidden, yet hospitable life that characterized Charles. He was beatified on November 13, 2005. American Catholic Blog You know, O my God, I have never desired anything but to love you, and I am ambitious for no other glory.

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