Source Code is directed by Duncan Jones and written by Ben Ripley. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright. Music is by Chris P. Bacon and cinematography by Don Burgess.
U.S. Military helicopter pilot Colter Stevens (Gyllenhaal) repeatedly relives the eight minutes leading up to a terrorist train bombing in the hope of finding the bomber
With his excellent first film, Moon, Duncan Jones got himself noticed to the point that many sci-fi fans have been eagerly awaiting his next foray into the sci-fi realm. So some pressure, then, on Source Code to make good on that early promise. Leaving space, Jones is this time on Earth tackling a sub-genre that has had many an instalment over the years, the time travel thinker. How wonderful to report that Jones and his sparkling team have crafted one of the better efforts to tackle the subject.
Off the bat it has to be said that it's easy to draw comparisons to a number of movies that Source Code leans on. Be it the continuous comedy time loop of Groundhog Day, the techno mind meld of Déjà Vu, and thematic snatches from the likes of The Matrix and Frequency, Jones' film is not about to herald a new dawn of sci-fi. Yet all these things have amazingly come together to create one large intellectually satisfying whole. Sprinkle on some action adrenalin rushes, ease in some suspense, some heart tugging and a romantic thread that actually belongs! Well you have got yourself a very tasty piece of pie.
That Jones is able to blend all this without halting the flow of his picture marks him out as one who is ready for the big league. We are after all dealing with a film that for 90% of its run time is replaying an 8 minute train ride. But each 8 minutes brings more to the plot, tension mounts, clues are dangled, characters come alive, yet we know that this train still goes kaboom, the hopeless feel that accompanies the destiny of Colter and the train passengers adds another critical element to why Source Code is top stuff, namely is it possible for Colter to go against the laws of quantum physics? He believes so, he desperately wants to save everyone on that train, but logic and his superiors tells him, and us, otherwise.
None of this would work if the casting wasn't so astute. Having to carry the film firmly on his shoulders, Gyllenhaal is fantastic, showing vast range with every 8 minute section of that train ride. From the confusion that brings out neurosis in the early parts, to the manic and steely determination to succeed in the latter stages, he nails it as a flawed, scared, soldier of hope. Monaghan's natural attractiveness and earthy appeal really serves her character well, making it easy for us to not only want her to not get blown to bits, again and again, but also to believe that Colter wants to succeed so desperately so as to save her. Farmiga is in a small role (arguably just a plot set up), and mostly in close ups via a screen, but she makes good as the icy stickler for orders who begins to melt with Colter's desperate situation.
The liability is Wright, who seems to be pitching his role as the Source Code creator between evil genius and pompous prat! I've no idea what accent he is trying to do and he blatantly tries to steal the film in every scene he is in. You have to think that had someone like Ridley Scott or James Cameron been directing, such thick ham slicing would have been reined in. Jones will learn one would think. Chris Bacon's (conductor-I Am Legend) score is suitably Hitchcockian, Don Burgess' (Contact/Spider-Man/The Book of Eli) photography is genre compliant and it's nice to see some Illinois land marks feature. All that and there's even a very notable (homage) voice cameo in there as well.
Even paying off on further viewings, Source Code is a must see for the genre fan. A thriller with heart, a sci-fi with brains, and an action film as well. 9/10
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