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I was feeling starved of movies and had a couple of hours free this morning. Source Code seemed the best of the crop at the local multiplex, although the synopsis looked as though I might be in for another version of Groundhog Day. Avoiding spoilers, this wasn’t far off the mark. It involved romance, and it involved a plot that meant a continuous returning to a slot of time to repeat a sequence of events in order to discover something. The difference in the two story-lines illustrates the differences in the dominant preoccupations of the 90s and a decade into the new millennium. Groundhog Day was the story of a quest to find one’s true self, and its comedy genre reminds us of more optimistic times.  The more complex challenge in Source Code uses some edgy sf technology and a few bio-ethical questions to harvest intelligence to defeat a terrorist attack. Both carry the sub-text of the debate between human free-will and determinism. Source Code adds the intriguing possibility of altering the course and outcome of events that have already occurred.  Like The Adjustment Bureau and Minority Report, the hero fights a two-dimensional, seemingly all-powerful bureaucracy to demonstrate that the freedom of the human spirit must prevail. Endings of such story-lines are generally twee and unsatisfying (we like fairy tale endings), but I always find the struggle intriguing.

Three stars out of five, just for the fact that it casts some fresh light and shade on a theme we seem not to have gown tired of.

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