Director: Duncan Jones
Writer: Ben Ripley
Starring: Jack Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright, Russell Peters
Country: United States
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Time: 94 minutes
Genre: Science Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
USA Release: 4/1/2011
On DVD (USA): 7/26/2011
I have you ever woken up on a train and had no idea how you got there, and why the person sitting across from you seems to know you, but they are a complete stranger to you. Well in most situation I doubt that you were a different person then you think you are. But that is the unfortunate case that Jake Gyllenhaal has is “Source Code”, directed by acclaimed director Duncan Jones (“Moon”) who brings us another mind bending thriller. But can lightning really strike twice for this director, with this film already being called one of the years best, or does it lose it’s momentum and just fade away. Let’s all get comfortable and take a deep breath….
In “Source Code” we find Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) on board of a train headed for Chicago, but he has no recollection of how he got there. Soon his confusion grows worse as the woman sitting across from him named Christina (Michelle Monaghan) seems to think his name is Sean Fentress. As he attempts to figure out what’s going on the train suddenly explodes. After waking up surprised that he’s still alive he realizes he is in some sort of capsule and is unexpectedly greeted by a Capt. Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) via computer screen. After asking Stevens questions that he knows nothing of, she is forced to explain what’s going on. He is inside something called the Source Code, a new program that allows him to occupy someone’s body for the last eight minutes of their life. This technology is used to help stop any attack that could lead to a much bigger one. For example earlier that day, a Chicago train was destroyed by a bomb, and threats were made that there could be another one, his mission is to go back using the Source Code and find out where’s the bomb and who the bomber is. Unfortunately that task is proven to be harder than it seems, and how far can he push those binding eight minutes?
With an premise that could turn any which way, how could you not be on the edge of your seat. In 2009 Duncan Jones made his highly acclaimed debut with “Moon”, and now with “Source Code” we know he is here to stay. Much like his father David Bowie, Jones has found his calling that shows his unique skills to entertain and tell stories. As impressive as the directing was so was the cinematography, which for as many times as we return to the same scene we saw it a different way every time. No two shots were the same, making it a joy to watch as the scene changed itself, though it was the same backdrop. But something that did seem familiar in a good way was the music, maybe it was just me but the opening title music reminded me of the music of the 1960’s bringing one film to mind “Charade” which seem to have shared a similar style. As for the story which is one of the most original and entertaining of the year, although it reminds me of “Déjà Vu” and “Groundhogs Day” just in little details, but we are immediately thrown into the confusion of Stevens that it sets it apart from those films. The story brings up the horrors of the government and how he was a prisoner of his own country and how far they are willing to go to keep a project open even if the subject doesn’t want to be involved. But like last years “Inception” you don’t walk away with anything for face value, there are many ways to take this film, it really challenges the mind if you allow it. It makes you question what he was doing before the time the movie begins since they say how long he’s been with the program. [MAJOR SPOILER ALERT] They say they would just erase his mind and start again, does that mean that it’s happened before since he didn’t remember the program. [SPOILER ALERT OVER]
It also pushes the limits of the capacity of the mind and technology, moving this to not just be another action thriller but to make it a psychological film. As for the cast outside of the four main characters the rest shuffle around so much that if I said anything it could give too much away. But breaking down the four main players Jeffery Wright did a great performance that in some ways was creepy and sinister because of how vague he is about the whole situation. The character’s ego seemed to be used as a way to not have to talk to Capt. Stevens, leaving it in many ways to be Steven’s nemesis. In addition to the lesser of the 4 main characters, Michelle Monaghan’s Christina who is surprisingly not on screen as much as you think, is just the simple love interest, but she brings light hearted moments that reminds Capt. Stevens that Shawn is a person and keeps him somewhat grounded. As the movie continues to flow we find out that we not only have one hero but two, maybe they are not the hero in the same world but in their separate world they are. Another great performance was Vera Farmiga’s Capt. Goodwin who brings a sense of calmness and order to the otherwise crazy situation that Capt. Stevens is now facing. She is navigating him though this but with each passing eight minutes segments, the hard shell she has around her seems to get chipped away. With that shell being chipped away there is an underlining tag team between Goodwin and Stevens, but in the beginning Jake Gyllenhaal’s Capt. Stevens was very mission oriented and very focus on just why he is there. All he wants is answers to what is happening. In a sense he is almost wearing blinders, but just like Capt. Goodwin’s shell that seemed to get less hardened so was Capt. Stevens who the more time went on became less like a solider and more of Shawn or a person. As he starts out it’s just find the bomb, find the bomber but the more he went back it became more about saving lives on the train. Making this one of Jake Gyllenhaal best performances in a long time.
All in all this is one of the years best movies, like that of “Inception” it keeps you on the edge of your seat, with a combination of remarkable directing and cinematography but also with a staggeringly brilliant script and some amazing performances by the whole cast. As soon as the lights go up at the end your ready to watch it all over again, and also start a discussion with friends. Don’t let this slip by, make sure you check it out in theaters. You won’t be sorry.