|Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright, Michael Arden
|May 5, 2011
Captain Colter Stevens (Gyllenhaal) wakes up and finds himself aboard a train heading to Chicago. He has no idea how he got there. The last thing he can remember was being on a mission in Afghanistan. Before anything has a chance to sink in, the woman seated opposite (Monaghan) starts up a conversation. He doesn’t know what she’s talking about or why she’s calling him by a different name.
He slips into the bathroom to compose himself and on looking in the mirror, sees a completely differently reflection. Panic starts to set in. He opens his wallet and finds identification belonging to a Mr Sean Fentress. The photo matches the reflection in front of him. Who is Sean Fentress and why has he found himself in his body? Before he has a chance to process anything further, the train explodes.
What I’ve described is the first 8 minutes of Source Code, a slick thriller from director Duncan Jones (Moon). I’ve got mixed feelings about the film as a whole but to its credit, it is trying to offer something a little different. It wants to keep the audience thinking and it wants to surprise us with a few twists.
It turns out that Colter Stevens is being used by the military in a secret new project. A scientist (Wright) has found a way for people to relive the final few minutes of another’s life. It has something to do with “source code” but most of it went over my head to be honest.
This new technology is being used to identify the terrorist responsible for the train explosion. The unwilling Stevens has been transported back in time and into the body of Fentress so that he can piece the puzzle together. He needs to determine where the bomb is located, who planted it and how it was detonated. Time is of the essence as in the “real world”, further terrorist threats have been made. The authorities need to know what they’re up against and only Stevens can provide the answers.
All “time travel” flicks face reality hurdles and it’s critical that the screenwriters get us past them. We can then focus on the broader story and the characters contained within it. I wanted to enjoy this film for what it was but the little voice in the back of my head kept picking out the plot holes. For example, I couldn’t understand how Stevens kept dying after 8 minutes, even when he decided to get off the train. Was this a coincidence or part of the design of this alternate universe? The ending was also befuddling.
There are elements of the film that deserve praise and in particular, the casting. Jeffrey Wright always has a distinctive presence on screen and he delivers once again in this quirky role. I love listening to his voice. Michelle Monaghan is great too. She offers some much needed charisma and it’s a shame her role wasn’t bigger.
At a nicely paced 93 minutes, Source Code is hard to go along with at times but it's an intriguing thriller that will hold your attention.