Source Code

No, I mean the movie. It's science fiction, of the Twilight Zone flavour: soft, set here and now, and with a little pointed topical relevance. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a soldier who gets sent into the "Source Code", eight minutes before a terrorist attack, and told that he must do whatever he can to figure out who the bomber is. He can retry it as many times as he likes. It's very like the brilliant interactive fiction Varicella (described below the jump).


Varicella is a palace-coup interactive fiction, where you're the scheming Palace Minister. The king has just died, and you have the opportunity to seize the throne — if you can outwit the other powers in the palace. Like most interactive fiction, this is tricky to figure out, and like some of the most frustrating, you may well need to start over several times. But unlike most, the game is designed to work that way — to seize the throne, you will have to choreograph every move exactly. You won't be able to do this until you've figured out what you need to do by playing through and losing, many times. It works amazingly well, and it's a brilliant feeling when you're ready to go and stepping through the intrigue like clockwork. Highly recommended.

Source Code puts its hero in something like the same position. It's well executed, with enough good writing and characters to keep your interest. It was also, apparently, partly filmed in Montreal. I'm not really sure what parts, since much of it is either train interiors or generic military-base/mad-scientist sets. Most of the outdoor scenes are Chicago skylines and/or landmarks, which I don't personally recognize but surely they didn't use Montreal for those... The credits have enough French-Canadian names, though, that I'm sure a fairly substantial part must have been here; perhaps some of the CG sequences? I know we have a decent population of video-game folks.

Actually on re-examination, I'm pretty sure there's at least one scene filmed in Montreal:

If you look at that peculiar sculpture in the background, it is recognizable as one on Ile St. Helene where Piknic Electronik is held:
There is not, of course, a train station anywhere near this sculpture, and it's not like it appears prominently in the film. You'd think they could have picked any random suburban train stop, or park for that matter, to film at.

Anyway: worth seeing. Not nearly as much an action movie as the capsule description makes it seem. I also think it's amusing that we're in an era where "Source Code" is a good name for "magic" in the eyes of the movie-watching public.

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