Those who struggled with that movie will not have the same issue with Source Code, while those who didn’t will enjoy it just as much. It is a great middle ground between the two. An intelligent plot driven movie hat rewards the viewer for paying attention, while not leaving you with a headache when you don’t.
Air Force Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal – Jarhead, Prince Of Persia) wakes up on board a train with no memory of how he got there. The woman sitting across from him, Christina (Michelle Monaghan – Gone Baby Gone, Eagle Eye), seems to know him, what’s more, the reflection staring back at him in a bathroom mirror is not his own. Before he can figure out what is going on, an explosion blows up the train killing all on board.
Dazed and confused, Colter awakens in an enclosed pod strapped into a chair, and is questioned about the bombing over a monitor by Captain Goodwin (Vera Farmiga – The Departed, Up In The Air) and Dr Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright – Casino Royale). They explain that he has been in a simulation called Source Code that allows him to re-live the last 8 minutes of the life of a passenger on the train in order to find out who the bomber is and prevent a second more deadly attack expected later that day.
While that may seem to be quite spoiler heavy, believe me, it’s not. If you’ve seen the trailer that’s pretty much what you see, and for once it’s nice to have seen a trailer and not have the movie spoiled beforehand.
The story borrows elements from several movies such as Déjà vu, Groundhog Day and in particular at one early moment I was reminded of a TV show that many will be familiar with (Watch for a nod to this in the form of a cameo later in the movie), but at no time does it feel derivative or a direct rip off of any of these ideas, more a refining of some of their best qualities without their weaker points included.
Director Duncan Jones follow up to his sci-fi drama Moon is solidly directed, with the story taking precedence over special effects which exist purely to service the script. The train sequences, while set during the same 8 minutes of time do not feel as repetitive as you may expect and the performances of the cast are good throughout, Gyllenhaal being stand out among them. The editing of the movie puts the running time at 93 minutes, meaning that it flows well from start to finish without overstaying it’s welcome and becoming a bore. I look forwards to seeing what Jones will do for his next project.