Source Code – About

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Source Code
Source Code Poster.jpg

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Duncan Jones
Produced by
Written by Ben Ripley
Music by Chris Bacon
Cinematography Don Burgess
Edited by Paul Hirsch
Distributed by Summit Entertainment
Release date
  • March 11, 2011 (SXSW)
  • April 1, 2011 (United States)
  • April 20, 2011 (France)
Running time
93 minutes
  • United States
  • France
Language English
Budget $32 million
Box office $147.3 million

Source Code is a 2011 science fiction thriller film directed by Duncan Jones and written by Ben Ripley. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a U.S. Army captain who is sent into a computed reality to find a bomber. Michelle MonaghanVera Farmiga, and Jeffrey Wright play supporting roles. The film had its world premiere on March 11, 2011 at South by Southwest, and was released by Summit Entertainment on April 1, 2011 in North America and Europe.

The film received favorable reviews from critics and became a box office success, grossing over $147.3 million worldwide. Plans for a television adaptation at CBS were announced shortly after the film was released. However, these plans were scrapped in December 2014 in favor of a film sequel. The sequel is in development with Mark Gordon returning as producer and Anna Foerster added as director.


U.S. Army pilot Captain Colter Stevens wakes up on a Metra commuter train headed to Chicago. Stevens is disoriented, his last memory before that was being on a mission in Afghanistan. To the world around him – including his traveling partner Christina Warren and the bathroom mirror – Stevens appears to be Sean Fentress, a school teacher. As he comes to grips with this revelation, the train explodes, killing everyone aboard.

Stevens regains consciousness inside a dimly lit cockpit. Communicating through a video screen, Air Force Captain Colleen Goodwin verifies Stevens’ identity and insists he stay “on mission” to find the train bomber before a second bomb hits downtown Chicago in six hours. Stevens is inside the “Source Code”, an experimental device designed by scientist Dr. Rutledge. In the machine he experiences the last eight minutes of another compatible person’s life within an alternative timeline.

Stevens is unwillingly sent back into the Source Code repeatedly in frustrating, exhausting attempts to learn the bomber’s identity. He tries to warn authorities on the train and flee with Christina, escaping the explosion. Other times, he cannot locate or disarm the bomb in time and dies on the train. Later, Stevens learns that he has been with them for two months since being reported killed in action in Afghanistan. In real life he is comatose and is missing most of his body, he is on life support while hooked up to neural sensors. The cockpit capsule is a projection of his brain as it attempts to make sense of a missing environment. Angry at learning that he is on life support, he asks to be disconnected after the mission and Rutledge agrees.

Stevens finally catches the bomber, a man named Derek Frost. Frost leaves his wallet behind to fake his own death and gets off at the last stop before Chicago. In their first encounter, Frost kills both Stevens and Christina and flees in a rented white van with a dirty bomb in it. Stevens remembers the license number and direction and reports it to Rutledge when he returns from the Source Code. The authorities use the information to catch Frost, preventing him from detonating the dirty bomb. Rutledge reneges on his promise to let Stevens die and orders Goodwin to wipe Stevens’ memory for a future mission. Stevens convinces Goodwin to allow him one more trip back to the train so that he can try to save everyone, despite Rutledge’s insistence that events could not be altered.

Stevens is sent back into the Source Code where he asks Christina to go out for coffee with him. He then leaves her and disarms the bomb, subdues Frost, and reports him to the authorities. Stevens uses Frost’s phone to send an email to Goodwin before calling his estranged father and reconciling with him under the guise of a fellow soldier. Stevens returns to Christina and starts to kiss her, at the same time Goodwin approaches the Source Code chamber and disconnects the life support. Stevens dies, but in the new alternate timeline he finishes the kiss with Christina. They continue on the train and then walk through downtown Chicago to the Cloud Gate.

When the alternate-timeline Goodwin arrives for work at Nellis Air Force Base that morning, she receives the email from Stevens. The email includes a coded message verifying Steven’s identity, and he informs Goodwin that they have changed history and that Source Code works. He asks her to take care of the alternate-timeline version of him that is still in a coma.




David Hahn, the boy depicted in the 2003 made-for-television documentary The Nuclear Boy Scout, was the inspiration for the antagonist Derek Frost. In an article published by the Writers Guild of America, screenwriter Ben Ripley is described as providing the original pitch to the studios responsible for producing Source Code,

Ripley first came up with the idea for Source Code, in which government operative Colter Stevens repeatedly relives the eight minutes leading up to a terrorist train bombing in hopes of finding the bomber, he had no intention of writing it on spec. Having established himself in Hollywood largely doing “studio rewrites on horror movies,” he felt a solid pitch would do the trick. Unfortunately, it didn’t. “I sat down with a few producers, and the first couple just looked at me like I was nuts,” confesses Ripley. “Ultimately, I had to put it on the page to make my case.”

After seeing Moon, Gyllenhaal lobbied for Jones to direct Source Code; Jones liked the fast-paced script; as he later said: “There were all sorts of challenges and puzzles and I kind of like solving puzzles, so it was kind of fun for me to work out how to achieve all these difficult things that were set up in the script.”

In the ending scene, Jake Gyllenhaal’s and Michelle Monaghan’s characters are seen walking through Millennium Park, and make their way to the Cloud Gate. In a 2011 interview, Gyllenhaal discussed how director Duncan Jones felt the structure was a metaphor for the movie’s subject matter, and aimed for it to feature at the beginning and end of the movie.


Principal photography began on March 1, 2010, in MontrealQuebec, and ended on April 29, 2010. Several scenes were shot in Chicago, Illinois, specifically at Millennium Park and the Main Building at the Illinois Institute of Technology, although the sign showing the name of the latter, in the intersection of 31st Street and S LaSalle Street, was edited out.

Initially, some filming was scheduled at the Ottawa Train Station in Ottawa, Ontario, but was cancelled for lack of an agreement with VIA Rail.


Editing took place in Los Angeles. In July 2010, the film was in the visual effects stage of post-production. Most of the VFX work was handled by Montreal studios, including Modus FX, Rodeo FX, Oblique FX, and Fly Studio. Jones had confirmed that the film’s soundtrack would be composed by Clint Mansell, in his second collaboration with the composer. However, it was later announced that Mansell would no longer score the soundtrack due to time constraints.


Theatrical release

The film received its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 11, 2011. Summit Entertainment released the film to theaters in the United States and Canada on April 1, 2011. In France, the film was released on April 20, 2011.

Home media

Source Code was released on DVD and Blu-ray simultaneously in the United States on July 26, 2011, with the United Kingdom release on DVD and Blu-ray (as well as a combined DVD/Blu-ray package) on August 15, 2011. In the UK, there was also a DVD released featuring a 3D cover.


Box office

Source Code was released in theaters on April 1, 2011. In the United States and Canada, Source Code was released theatrically in 2,961 conventional theaters. The film grossed $54,712,227 during its run with midnight screenings in 2,961 locations. Overall the film made $14,812,094 and debuted at #2 on its opening weekend.

Critical response

Source Code received acclaim from critics. Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports a 91% approval rating, based on an aggregation of 247 reviews, with an average rating of 7.5/10. The site’s consensus reads, “Finding the human story amidst the action, director Duncan Jones and charming Jake Gyllenhaal craft a smart, satisfying sci-fi thriller.” Metacritic awarded the film an average score of 74/100, based on 41 reviews, indicating “generally favorable reviews”.

Critics have compared Source Code with both the 1993 film Groundhog Day, and British film director Tony Scott‘s 2006 time-altering science fiction film Déjà Vu: in the latter case, the similarity of plotline in the protagonist’s determination to change the past was highlighted, and his emotional commitment to save the victim, rather than simply try to discover the identity of the perpetrator of the crime. Alternatively, it has been described as a “cross between Groundhog Day and Murder on the Orient Express,” while The Arizona Republic film critic Bill Goodykoontz says that comparing Source Code to Groundhog Day is doing a disservice to Source Code‘s enthralling “mind game.”

Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times called the film, “Confounding, exhilarating, challenging – and the best movie I’ve seen so far in 2011.” Roger Ebert gave the film 3.5 stars out of 4, calling it “an ingenious thriller” where “you forgive the preposterous because it takes you to the perplexing.” Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times called Ben Ripley’s script “cleverly constructed” and a film “crisply directed by Duncan Jones.” He also praised the “cast with the determination and ability to really sell its story.” CNN called Ripley’s script “ingenious” and the film “as authoritative an exercise in fractured storytelling as Christopher Nolan‘s Memento.” He also commented that Gyllenhaal is “more compelling here than he’s been in a long time.”


Year Group Category Recipient(s) Result
2011 Scream Awards Best Science Fiction Actor Jake Gyllenhaal Nominated
2011 Bradbury Award Bradbury Award Ben Ripley and Duncan Jones Nominated
2012 Hugo Award Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form Nominated
Visual Effects Society Awards Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Feature Motion Picture Annie Godin, Louis Morin Nominated

See also


  1. Jump up^ Steven’ neural pathways were compatible with a passenger on the train and as such he is able to retroactively access the target person’s memory for some time after the their death as a way of gleaning information critical to the prevention of additional attacks. It is believed that these alternative timelines are not real and cease to exist after the subject’s death; as such the events cannot be altered and are only to gain information.


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  13. Jump up^ “Entertainment”Ottawa Sun. March 17, 2010.
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  26. Jump up^ Source Code’: A ‘Groundhog Day’ With Scientific Mumbo-Jumbo”TheWrap. Retrieved March 31, 2011.
  27. Jump up^ Source Code’ is a disaster ‘Groundhog Day’ with twists”Sign On San Diego. Retrieved March 31, 2011.
  28. Jump up^ “Peter Travers: ‘Source Code’ is Confusing But Exciting”Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 31, 2011.
  29. Jump up^ Holmes, Brent (April 6, 2011). “Source Code feels a lot like Deja Vu”Western Gazette. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  30. Jump up to:a b Charity, Tom (April 1, 2011). Source Code’ a smart, original sci-fi thriller”CNN. Retrieved April 1, 2011.
  31. Jump up^ “Arizona Republic: “Movies: ‘Source Code’ 4 Stars”AZ Central. March 30, 2011.
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  33. Jump up^ Turan, Kenneth (April 1, 2011). “Movie review: ‘Source CodeLos Angeles Times. Retrieved March 31, 2011.
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External links