“What would you do if you knew you only had one minute to live? “
Source Code is a psychological thriller directed by Duncan Jones(who had previously debuted as a director with his cool sci-fi film Moon) that stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Captain Coulter Stevens who is trapped reliving 8 minutes of a train bombing over and over again until he finds the info he needs. The movie definitely has the cool independent feel to which should be comforting to fans of Moon. The big question is can Jones create a memorable film in his sophomore production or does he fall flat like so many directors before him.
Source Code is a movie that works on many different levels. Like many psychological films that have come before it; (Memento, Buried, Se7en) it is about a character who is thrown into the middle of a mess and he has no idea what is going on. The character starts out on a train and does not see his own reflection when looking in a window but someone else’s. He has no memory of how he got there or why he is there. Eventually he learns that the memory he is reliving over and over again is part of an experimental government program called “Source Code”. The point is that like most psychological thrillers this movie is centered on a character who is thrown into an odd situation. The other component of the movie is the science fiction side of it. Without going into too much detail the movie deals with complex ideas such as alternate realities and the possibility of changing the past. So when I say psychological science fiction movie I mean that it is a movie about a character who is thrown into something that he doesn’t understand with science being the explanation. The film certainly works as both a sci-fi and psychological movie.
Aside from nailing the basic concept, there are several areas in which the movie succeeds. The movie features Jake Gyllenhaal who brings his typical but likable charm to the role. As the movie progresses you really grow into liking the character. Even though you don’t really get to see most of his history the film slowly but surely drops little things here and there until at the movie you really don’t want to see Coulter Stevens fail. Aside from Gyllenhaal the film stars Michelle Monaghan who is his lady friend on the train, Vera Farmiga who plays a woman outside of the Source Code program who is trying to help Coulter, and Jeffrey Wright who plays the greedy scientist who wants to use the Source Code program for the government. There are also several characters that play small but entertaining roles on the train. All of the supporting cast does a great job that really helps the believability of the film.
As I already mention the film has a very distinct feel and style to it because it blends so many different elements from other movies that it almost feels new. As far as the plot goes I can say that it feels like Groundhog Day meets the Matrix because the film has the same event happen over and over again with each repeat advancing the plot as Coulter Stevens learns more each times he goes back into Source Code. I think that one thing this movie had to nail is pacing because any time you have a character reliving the same sequence over and over you risk the film becoming stale before it even finishes. Luckily the film makers make it a point for the character to learn something specific each time he goes in with a new twist arising almost every time. I think that the movie also does a good job at leaving the viewer wondering what is going to happen to Coulter Stevens in the end because of the information he learns after he goes in each time. The film’s writers and director should be a applauded for this because these are issues that are easy to have in a film of this nature.
Overall I would say that this was a really solid film and Duncan Jones’s direction is still solid. It may not be a huge epic blockbuster but it is a film that has a distinct flavor and style that I will not be forgetting in the near future. I am actually excited to see what Duncan does later in his career with his distinct, independent feeling direction in film.
The film maintains a steady pace that keeps the audience interested. The film does include a few twists and turns that make it that much more interesting to watch. The mystery of who the bomber is and what his motives are also help maintain the suspense in the film.
Duncan Jones continues to impress with his very independent look and feel. He still manages to leave the audience with something to think about after the credits role.
Jake Gyllenhaal does a great job with the character of Coulter Stevens by bringing his usual charm to the role. The supporting cast is also strong no matter how small the part. Each character plays their role in the story well.
Action: None needed
This film really doesn’t have any huge set pieces or fights so there really isn’t a whole lot of action. That being said; there are many times when a well paced story and suspense filled plot can be more effective than wanna-be Michael Bay explosions. Action is not really a big deal in this film and it doesn’t need to be
Overall Score: 8.5/10