It’s not often we leave a theater and feel fully engaged with a movie, moreover it’s not often we leave a theater and feel we just watched something special. This is the case with Duncan Jones’ new film, Source Code. After leaving the screening of this film, I felt as if I just watched a new entry into the realm of sci-fi classics. Source Code belongs with the likes of Blade Runner, Total Recall and Minority Report. A film that, at times, feels clunky and disjointed but ultimately, with time, it emerges as “one of those” movies, a movie that will gain a cult following despite its flaws.
Source Code is the story of Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal), a man who wakes up to find himself, in the identity of an unknown man on a speeding commuter’s train making its way towards Chicago. He has eight minutes to find the identity of a terrorist plotting to blow up the train and its passengers. Once he retrieves this information he is then transported to an unknown military base to stop future terrorist attacks around the city. Stevens must relive the last eight minutes before the train explodes over and over again until he finds the terrorist. If this sounds complicated, you’re right, it is. But through the direction of Duncan Jones, Source Code delivers a suspenseful, action-packed and touching sci-fi film that is one half 12 Monkeys and one half Total Recall with hints of Groundhog Day.
But with any movie that explores time travel, there are bound to be flaws and missteps. Sure, the science in this movie is somewhat flimsy and never really explained. It takes its cues from fantasy more than science fiction. Rather the source code itself feels like magic and not science. But despite that, I think the film works. It is more concerned with following through to the next logical step. Which, for me, is greatly appreciated.
The film is highly effective creating a world in such a small space. There is weight to character’s decisions despite the premise of restarting over and over again like a video game. Duncan Jones gives this film much needed heart by injecting emotional payoffs with a strong co-star in Michelle Monaghan’s Christina, easily this film could’ve been cold and sterile and I’m glad it wasn’t. As much as the audience is invested in the prevention of a terrorist attack, we are just as invested in the budding romance between Stevens and Christina.
If Duncan Jones delivered a Solaris-type film in Moon, a meditative examination of the existence of man and his role in the greater good of society, then Source Code is Jones’ entry into the thrilling, high action, speculative side of science fiction. Either way, Duncan Jones is making a name for himself in Hollywood and in the geek sci-fi crowd. Source Code is an exciting and thoughtful film that is definitely worth seeing! Time will tell whether or not Source Code will be a sci-fi classic, but, for my money, you can count on it.