Source Code is a gripping sci-fi whodunit film that impeccably blends the time-travel and murder-mystery genres.
The Source Code is a program that allows a near-deceased person to enter the body of, and relive the final moments (eight minutes to be exact) of another person’s life.
In this instance, US Army helicopter pilot Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) is forced to relive the life of school teacher Sean Fentress. Sean was a victim of a train bombing earlier that day and it is Colter’s role to relive the last eight minutes of Sean’s life on the doomed train and to gather intelligence to figure out who the bomber was, in order to thwart another suspected bombing that is yet to happen.
Colter is at the mercy of Air Force Captain Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) and her superior Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright), as they provide him with details about his mission and slowly give away details of the program each time he exits the Source Code. Colter must find the bomber whilst at the same time uncover the details surrounding how he got to be in the Source Code.
The premise of Source Code is a lot to swallow, however director Duncan Jones (Moon) smartly reveals plot points in intervals between the times the film shifts from the Source Code to the real world, which makes this complex story seemingly easy to follow, without boring its audience. In between the nitty-gritty details of the back-story, we are injected with spouts of action, suspense, humour and drama while in the Source Code.
Gyllenhall (Donnie Darko, Jarhead) does a superb job as the bewildered soldier and successfully balances his multi-faceted role of soldier, investigator, hero and friend. Michelle Monaghan (Eagle Eye, Gone Baby Gone), who plays Colter’s companion on the train excellently compliments Gyllenhall’s lead. The supporting characters played by Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air, The Departed) and Jeffrey Wright (Syriana, Casino Royale) are unfortunately under-developed.
The production standard of Source Code is as good as it can be for a low ($32 million) budget blockbuster. The lack of budget on effects can especially be seen during the big train explosion scenes (there are many). The lack of brilliant visual support is not however detrimental to the film at all.
Where Source Code shines is in the intense pace the story is told in. It provides enough twists and turns to keep the audience awake at all times. Source Code merges science fiction with action and mystery and suspense brilliantly, all while exuding underlying themes of courage and honour. After the critical success of his low budget sci-fi film Moon, Duncan Jones has now proven that he can also tackle the blockbuster genre and Source Code will surely be a huge hit for the up and coming director.
The screenplay for this film was featured in the 2007 Blacklist; a list of the “most liked” unmade scripts of the year.