A soldier awakens on a train in the body of another man on a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train.
In 2009, writer/director Duncan Jones brought his freshman effort, Moon, into the world and it quickly became a sci-fi classic. With his second film, Source Code, he does it once again. Jones has a real knack for old-fashioned sci-fi films, with both of these films feeling like more fleshed-out versions of old Twilight Zone episodes. Science-Fiction is one genre that seems to have really lost its touch this past decade or so, with only a few glimmers of light here in there like Inception and Minority Report. Duncan Jones is quickly becoming the next Ridley Scott (in the 70s and 80s), and I cannot wait until he produces his “Blade Runner”.
Moon and Source Code have much more in common than they seem to at first glance. While the latter features much more intensity and action than the former, it does not ignore the heart and soul of the film. This is arguably Jake Gyllenhaal’s most impressive and most engaging performance yet, and he carries the film just as well as Sam Rockwell did in Moon. Although instead of it being a one-man show, Gyllenhaal has support from the fantastic Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright, as well as Michelle Monaghan in a somewhat small but effective role. While Source Code provides a more-than-intriguing premise, it’s focus never strays from the characters, something that has been lost in films like these. The heart of the movie is Gyllenhaal’s character and the struggles he endures throughout the film both physically and emotionally.
On the other hand, this is a true thriller. While many have compared it to Groundhog’s Day, I have to disagree. The “source code” only allows someone to enter another’s body for 8 minutes, and every time our hero goes back, he has a new goal to complete. Each time he enters the source code, the audience feels a new level of tension, with Jones only allowing us to find out a tiny bit of information every time, allowing us to try and figure out who the bomber is ourselves. Jones’ choice to keep the audience as secluded as the main character is a very smart move, further heightening the tension and confusion.
Overall, Source Code is a thrilling sci-fi mystery that features plenty of twists and action without taking away from the film’s existential undertones or emotional connections. Duncan Jones is a very impressive new director and I cannot wait to see what he has in store for us next.
Rating: PG-13 for some violence including disturbing images, and for language
Runtime: 93 minutes