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"Source Code" Trailer: All That's Missing is Bruce Willis - Or Bill Murray

By Christopher Campbell | Spout November 22, 2010 at 5:01AM

It's time once again to play "The first trailer for this movie shows it's derivative of _____." No need to go through a long illustrated list of movies "Source Code" resembles, though. Because it doesn't look like as many movies as it feels like. The majority of bloggers reference "Groundhog Day," and a few cite "12 Monkeys" (or, in the case of the snobs, "La Jetee"), in their reactions to the trailer. There's also a bit of "The Matrix"/"TRON" in that titular setting we find out Jake Gyllenhaal is operating within. I'll throw in some "Quantum Leap" meets the opening of "Unbreakable." So, yeah, there are two movies mentioned that Bruce Willis starred in. Imagine if he was the star and was seen first surviving a train crash and then being told he failed his mission and had to go back in time to retry. Let's hope the terrorists who blow up the train happen to be led by a West German radical named Hans. And in the character's next leap he has to fix what once went wrong with an android demolition mission or hang out with a kid who sees dead people (wait, that might not work). Better yet, he enters the body of an alcoholic mortician who goes all "The Staircase" on his wife, only to find out she's recently become immortal.
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It's time once again to play "The first trailer for this movie shows it's derivative of _____." No need to go through a long illustrated list of movies "Source Code" resembles, though. Because it doesn't look like as many movies as it feels like. The majority of bloggers reference "Groundhog Day," and a few cite "12 Monkeys" (or, in the case of the snobs, "La Jetee"), in their reactions to the trailer. There's also a bit of "The Matrix"/"TRON" in that titular setting we find out Jake Gyllenhaal is operating within. I'll throw in some "Quantum Leap" meets the opening of "Unbreakable." So, yeah, there are two movies mentioned that Bruce Willis starred in. Imagine if he was the star and was seen first surviving a train crash and then being told he failed his mission and had to go back in time to retry. Let's hope the terrorists who blow up the train happen to be led by a West German radical named Hans. And in the character's next leap he has to fix what once went wrong with an android demolition mission or hang out with a kid who sees dead people (wait, that might not work). Better yet, he enters the body of an alcoholic mortician who goes all "The Staircase" on his wife, only to find out she's recently become immortal.

Fortunately Bruce Willis doesn't repeat himself the same way Nic Cage does. Had Nic Cage starred in "12 Monkeys" and "Unbreakable," it would only be natural for him to show up in "Source Code." I do wish Willis -- or, better yet, Bill Murray -- showed up in a supporting role, a la Gene Hackman nodding to "The Conversation" from within "Enemy of the State," but alas not everyone can have the emulative mind of Tony Scott (who also paid heavy homage to "Badlands" with "True Romance," and whose "Deja Vu" and "Unstoppable" have also been mentioned in relation to "Source Code"). Speaking of which, Jones did recently Tweet-admit that he's heavily influenced by "Top Gun."

Before we take a look at some of the common comments responding to the familiarities of "Source Code," let's just remember that this is from Duncan Jones, whose debut was the brilliant "Moon," which initially seemed like just another knock-off of old sci-fi gems like "2001" and "Silent Running." This time he's doing more of a for-hire thing, but our friend Oli Lyttelton at The Playlist read the script (or, Ben Ripley's draft, before Billy Ray got involved) and believes "it could potentially be the best sci-fi film in years, if executed well." Jones has shown he's terrific at execution, so I'm expecting something great come April 15, 2011, when the film opens.

First up, an early crop of comparisons from The Playlist's Oli Lyttelton (same post), based on his reading of the script a year ago:

Like "Moon," which nodded heavily to "2001," "Blade Runner" and "Silent Running," "Source Code" wears its influences on its sleeve: "The Matrix," "Groundhog Day" and even Tony Scott's weak "Deja Vu" are all in the mix. The difference between this and lesser scripts is that it combines them in a fresh, interesting way, with a killer plot, and more than a few thoughts in its head.

Peter Sciretta at /Film:

basically a mystery thriller set in a ten minute span of time Groundhog Day-style.

Devin Faraci at Badass Digest:

it sounds like Groundhog Day meets Quantum Leap – I just wish Gyllenhaal would have said “Oh boy” when he sees his ‘other face’ in the mirror.

Cindy Davis & TK at Pajiba:

It’s a little bit of Groundhog Day, a little bit of Run Lola Run, and a good bit of sci-fi mindfuckery.

Dixon Gaines at Movieline:

It’s like Groundhog’s Day, if every day ended with bits of Andi McDowell’s charred remains flying all over Chicago. [...] Stevens is actually strapped into a big honking machine called the source code that can jump his mind, Quantum Leap-style, into someone’s else mind for eight minutes to help discover who’s responsible for the bombing before they strike again. And of course, he also will fall in love, reconnect with his father, finally show up at his son’s crucial little league game, learn the true meaning of Christmas, etc. etc.

Danny Djeljosevic at MoviesOnline:

It’s The Matrix meets meets Groundhog Day by way of Quantum Leap as Jake Gyllenaal keeps jacking in to relive the eight minutes leading up to a train bombing in Chicago over and over until he figures out the culprit before a repeat bombing happens elsewhere.

Lewis Wallace at Underwire:

The new trailer (above) and the plot synopsis (below) make Source Code sound like a taut, brainy mix of Inception and Groundhog Day, with a solid grounding in the very real scramble to thwart bomb-toting terrorists.

Jeff Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere:

This looks very rote, very big-studio factory. But it also contains little tiny echoes of Inception here and there, and if the idea of being able to repeat an experience over and over is used in a semi-thoughtful Groundhog-y way, then Source Code might have a chance.

Jacob Hall at Cinematical:

It's like 'Groundhog Day' with a thriller makeover.

Matt Holmes at Obsessed with Film:

The premise is that of Groundhog Day meets Twelve Monkeys sprinkled with a bit of Deja Vu.

Josh Tyler at Cinema Blend:

Despite being set primarily on a train, Source Code and Unstoppable couldn’t possibly be any more different. Instead it’s kind of like Groundhog Day meets Déjà vu. You’ll know what I mean after you watch the movie’s first trailer. [...] I liked the script well enough when I read it, but to make it more than Groundhog Day with a bomb, he’ll have to have something special up his sleeve that we’re just not seeing in the trailer.

Nick Newman at The Film Stage:

Obviously, comparisons to something like Groundhog Day will arise. The repetition of the character’s setting being a big factor for both films’ stories, and the design of the room where Gyllenhaal talks to Farmiga bears a strong resemblance to the room Bruce Willis was put in before time traveling in 12 Monkeys (keep in mind both involve traveling through time and/or memory to stop a cataclysmic event). But the theme of dying and being reborn brings to mind his first film

Annalee Newitz at i09:

This flick looks like a strange cross between Groundhog Day and Speed - which could be awesome, or could be just a little gimmicky.

Dave Davis at JoBlo.com:

Kind of a DEJA VU meets "Quantum Leap" theme, but seems fascinating.

Krystal Clark at ScreenCrave:

This is like Groundhog Day for sci-fi fans.

Jack Giroux at Film School Rejects:

Groundhog Day was the first thing that came to mind while watching the first trailer for Duncan Jones‘s Source Code.

Quint at Ain't It Cool News:

looks to be a smart science fiction film that takes a bit from 12 Monkeys, a bit from Deja Vu, a bit from Groundhog Day and assembles a strong cast to tell this story.

James White at Empire:

What could be the basis for a cheap B-movie sci-fi romp (or a big screen version of Quantum Leap) certainly looks like it’ll tackle more than just the high concept.


For some reason I've seen no references to the Oscar-nominated short film "12:01 PM" (nor to its source or the later adaptation "12:01"). Also, no memory of the recent Toronto Film Festival selection "Repeaters," which was written-up everywhere as "Groundhog Day" as a teen thriller.

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