Source Code (2011) | Review by Mark Leidner
What if every time you read anything, you summoned the author’s mind into your own, housed it there on life-support, and for the duration of your attention span, that consciousness became a living thing. As long as you concentrated on this stranger’s words and let them overdub your own internal monologue, that writer was awake, alert, looking out through your eyes, feeling what you felt, thriving within your body. Then the moment you closed the book, or were distracted by a squirrel outside, or an email, or a phone call—the writer’s mind, as if struck by a freight train, is wiped from existence. It drifts without sensation or agency in the lightless void whose barest description belies a dimensionality it is defined by the lack of. Until the squirrel on the powerline runs out of your field of vision, or you delete the Facebook invite you just received, and return to your reading. Suddenly as if sucked out of purgatory and spit back into life the writer breathes again, or at least thinks, which is the breath of being. Once again the writer is smiling, weeping, opining, thrilling and being thrilled by the spongy, plangent joy of your form. As if to live in the empathetic present is the only heaven.
Reveling in the concept of a non-writer doomed to relive the same moment over and over is the primary Source of pleasure in Code. Watching whiskered, big-eyed Gyllenhaal grok his paradox isn’t nearly as wonderful as watching Bill Murray do it in Groundhog Day, but this sisyphean DeLorean gets adrenalized by shrinking down the existential loop from 1 day to 8 minutes. The other good thing Code does is blur in all its glossy, techno-thriller glory the line between the never-ending present and mother Death. Right now, reading this, you could be having a flashback on your deathbed, remembering when you read it long ago. Maybe we are all already dead, and the thing we call life is just one long, slow flashback. Something we lived before and now are falling through in a perfectly representational montage. Eternity, momentarity, the dream of forever realized through sheer faith in the infinity of now—in Code these venerable leitmotifs are like the most delicious Sicilian dough ever kneaded being grinded through the Play-Doh hand-crank of hackneyed idiocy that is the loud, plastic sacrament of blockbuster form. But it’s non-toxic, so you can still eat it. I’ve been eating it my whole life. It’s good!