What would you do if you had less than a minute to live? That’s part of the dilemma that Capt. Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) must face time and time again within the confines of the source code. The second directorial effort from Duncan Jones (Moon), Source Code is a razor sharp sci-fi thriller that boggles the nerves and mind all the way to to a real melon scratcher of a finale. Whereas many rising filmmakers hit that sophomore slump, Duncan Jones has crafted an even more mentally stimulating journey of the mind than his first film and I’m more than pleased to take that ride.
What is the Source Code exactly? In this film the source code represents an opposite reality, in this case a former real life train disaster that was caused by an unknown bomber. Thus in order to understand the events that took place and hopefully discover the identity of the bomber, Capt. Coulter Stevens must enter the source code through the body and mind of one of it’s dead passengers Sean Fentress à la Quantum Leap. So with only 8 minutes (that being the supposed amount of time the brain is still semi-functional after someone dies) Capt. Stevens must try and try again to solve this mystery and hopefully prevent a claimed future bombing.
Naturally with a premise like this and a filmmaker like Duncan Jones you can imagine that there’s many more twists and turns buried within Source Code. Operating like a Hitchcockian Groundhog Day, Source Code unravels in an unconventional yet fully engrossing fashion that never gives you any reason to turn away. Just imagine when in a movie a character has only so many minutes before a bomb goes off, now imagine that over and again, that’s a lot of suspense but still done in a clever way.
I almost forgot to mention it’s a love story too, as Capt. Stevens continually connects with another passenger Christina (Michelle Monaghan) but fortunately it flows naturally within the premise and in no way feels tacked on. Other characters include Vera Farmiga as Goodwin, a military woman guiding Capt. Stevens through his trials and Jeffery Wright as the creator of the source code Dr. Rutledge. Though you can’t forget all the train passengers, all colorful and mysterious in their own ways and all potential suspects.
As much as I’d love to talk about how this all wraps up I’d hate to spoil the end. Really it’s one of those films that’s more about the ride than what it all comes to mean, I mean that’s cool too but it’s not the main reason I enjoyed it. For the most part I think audiences will enjoy Source Code in that it’s a great thriller that also leaves you with a lot to think about. Fortunately it’s nothing endlessly confusing either, which is a big plus considering it heavily deals with time and realities and what not. Hey, with directors like Duncan Jones who knows how many more years of great sci-fi we could expect. Why this could definitely be a sign of good things to come.