Source Code

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Source Code Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Taut thriller delivers explosive images, sci-fi twists.
  • PG-13
  • 2011
  • 93 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 51 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

There's an emphasis on kindness in the movie, as well as on the idea that life should be lived rather than observed.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Colter is an admirable guy -- committed, brave, and intent on doing what's right, no matter what the stakes. Goodwin also ultimately takes a stance that values the dignity of human life.


Lots of fiery explosions as the train blows up over and over, plus brawls and gunfights. Also, the gory sight of a soldier post-injury.


Some innuendo; a sweet kiss.


Swearing includes one use of "f--k," plus “s--t,” “goddamn,” "d--k," "damn," "hell," and "ass."


A few labels/brands are seen, including Victorinox and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this mind-bending sci-fi thriller deals with some pretty heavy stuff -- including death, mourning, and terrorism -- amid the big special effects and go-for-broke action. The main character (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) experiences the explosion of a passenger train over and over as he attempts to find out who's behind the bombing. In addition to the peril and fiery blow-up scenes, there's some swearing (including "s--t" and one "f--k") and scenes that show grave injuries.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 12-year-old Written byTreasuretheday September 4, 2011

Great movie for that tough in-between age!

Our son is at a tough age for movies... too old to really enjoy many of the kids' movies but not quite ready for some of the more mature movies. It's... Continue reading
Adult Written byinternetuse July 30, 2011

Twisted Fate

I was not sure what to expect from the movie, but it wasn't at all like I thought it would be. Moral issues came into play which I had to explain to my so... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old February 7, 2021

Very Good Thriller

Good thriller for tweens. it is kind of violent with explosions but it's a good film.
Teen, 14 years old Written bymr.write August 9, 2020

Exciting but somewhat confusing movie!

I liked this movie, brilliant idea but even I was confused by it. There are a lot of explosions. It shows a dead soldier. You can see his brain and the insides... Continue reading

What's the story?

Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up with a start on a train barreling toward Chicago, sitting across from a beautiful stranger (Michelle Monaghan) who thinks he’s her friend. Turns out he’s no longer a soldier in Afghanistan; somehow, he’s been transported inside the body of a teacher named Sean who’s stuck on a train that's about to explode, killing everyone. Eight minutes later, Colter is back in his own body -- which is in a space capsule of sorts run aground in an unspecified location -- and taking orders via computer camera from a fellow soldier, Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga). She reveals that Colter is part of a highly classified military project known as Source Code. He will be thrown back on the train time and again until he finds the bomb and the person who planted it -- and stops another, bigger catastrophe from destroying the city.

Is it any good?

When a movie is branded and marketed as an action thriller, it had better be transportive; that’s exactly what SOURCE CODE is. Disorienting at first, but in a way that's compelling, the movie changes things up just when you start getting comfortable with what you think the storyline is. Director Duncan Jones keeps things quick and breezy, but he sometimes seems to be ambivalent about how to paint a scene (is it funny? is it brawny?). Nevertheless, this is one movie that will definitely keep eyes glued to the screen.

As appealing as the film’s intriguing (as well as vexing and, it has to be said, sometimes nonsensical) premise is, the human interest story at its heart -- the meditation on mortality -- is even more gripping. Farmiga makes true any role she’s given, and Monaghan and Gyllenhaal make sparks when they share the frame. Though Gyllenhaal isn’t completely believable as a soldier unspooling from the inside as the world around him unravels -- his edges need to be rougher, his desperation more intense -- he grounds his portrayal in pathos and compassion.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the film's violence. Do the explosions and peril featured in this movie have as much impact on you as other kinds of violence?

  • Which of the movie's characters do you consider to be role models? How do they change/what do they learn over the course of the story?

  • How does the film address the ideas of death and what we leave behind? What would you want your legacy to be?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

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