Following upon his breakout success with the film Moon director Duncan Jones has returned with Source Code and has proven that he is not a one-hit wonder but also a talent on the rise.
The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Colter Stevens who, after waking up on a train, finds himself disoriented and unable to identify his travel companion, the attractive Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan), who sits across from him eagerly discussing things they appear to have spoken about previously.
Taking a quick survey of his surroundings, Colter finds out that he is on a train heading to Chicago and that he cannot explain how he ended up where he currently is. Colter is not given much time to ponder his situation as the train is suddenly rocked by a massive explosion and he finds himself engulfed in a wall of flame. Shortly thereafter Colter awakens and finds himself upside down and strapped into what appears to be a cockpit of some sort.
A voice soon fills the cockpit, followed by the face of the woman he can’t identify on a video monitor. Unable to ascertain what is going on, a frantic Colter only recalls that he was a helicopter pilot on mission in Afghanistan. The mystery woman (Vera Farmiga) tells him that he is now part of a top-secret project that is attempting to unravel the mystery behind the bombing of the train.
Before he can ask too many questions, Colter once again finds himself back on the train with Christina and the same sequence of events occur before the train is engulfed by devastating fireball. When he once again awakens in his cockpit, Colter learns that the project he’s involved with can send him back in time 8 minutes into the body of someone on the train. He will be sent back time and time again to relive those final 8 min. in an effort to determine who is responsible for the bombing.
Despite his protests, Colter relives the events each time looking for new clues and each time ending up engulfed in the fireball and awakening in his cockpit. Eventually after numerous trips to the past Colter becomes obsessed with not only getting to the bottom of the mystery but with saving Christina to whom he is becoming attached through their numerous 8 minute interactions. Colter is also desperate to determine his exact situation as he has no memory of how he ended up in the program and finds himself not only trying to solve the mystery of the bombing, save Christina, but also fill in the gaps in his memory.
What follows is a fast-paced, character-driven adventure film that relies on the interaction’s between the two leads rather than special effects to carry the film. Gyllenhaal and Monaghan have good chemistry with each other and the film has some nice twists and turns that will keep the audience engrossed even if the concepts of time travel and temporal mechanics escape them.
Jones keeps the film moving at a brisk pace and it does not drag or overstay its welcome. Like Moon, Jones has based the film around a leading man who is facing isolation and questioning his mental state. With what could’ve been a dumbed-down action film, Jones has exceeded expectations and produced a smart and innovative action thriller with a touch of science fiction and romance thrown in, a winning combination that makes for a very enjoyable film.
Four stars out of five