Source Code

An intelligent story with blazing pace, Source Code proves to be an exhilarating experience as an original and inventive sci-fi thriller.

Colter Stevens wakes up in a commuter train disoriented and incoherent with his surroundings. However, Christina Warren, the women beside him, seems to know him well, but adds to the confusion by calling him Sean Fentress. While Stevens is trying to figure out his true identity or lack of it, a bomb goes off, visibly destroying the train in seconds. Stevens awakens again, and this time he finds himself strapped in a small metal chamber. Through a TV monitor, Captain Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) explains that he is indeed Colter Stevens, a helicopter pilot on a mission to secure a passenger train from a terrorist bomb. Goodwin, along with project chief Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright), go on to explain that through a time loop program known as the Source Code, Stevens is sent back in time, into the identity of Sean Fentress, a casualty on a train that was blown up. Knowing that he has only eight minutes before the bomb goes off, Stevens is repeatedly sent back until he figures out the terrorist. At this point, prepare for a plot twist that can only be truly appreciated by thinking outside the box.

Remember that weird kid from Donnie Darco? Well, he’s not a kid anymore and no longer weird. As Colter Stevens, Jake Gyllenhaal is so convincing you actually feel his frustration in looking for answers; answers that are against his favour. Supporting him on either side is Michelle Monaghan as Christina Warren and Farmiga as Goodwin. While both women play important roles in aiding the plot, each renders a heart-warming touch to Stevens’ struggle in finding those answers. Of the two, Farmiga’s role has a very humanitarian touch towards the end while Monaghan’s character becomes his object of survival.

This is a thinking man’s movie. In comparison to Inception, last year’s equally mind blowing film from Christopher Nolan, Source Code works on a similar template as a puzzle within a puzzle. But it stops there and gives the audience a chance to think for themselves without overdoing it with road kill. What anchors the film is the intelligent screenplay by Ben Ripley, which also happens to be his first screenplay intended for a cinema production. Although the plot can also be compared to Vantage Point or Déjà vu, Ripley’s principal ideas are rife with originality. The concept behind the plot may be shocking for some, but agreeable by most is the fact that only a genius could have come up with such an example of time travel. Again, it is not time travel per se, but using the last few minutes of life before a clinically dead person becomes brain dead. You need to watch the film to really understand that last line.

Onto Duncan Jones and I am all praises, given that this is only his second foray as a director. When I watched Jones’ directorial debut – Moon – not only was I blown away, I saw a lot of promise for a young guy directing his first feature film. Along with the story and Gyllenhaal’s acting, Jones’ narration grabs your attention from the very first scene and never lets it go. Even then, I found myself starring at the screen as the credits rolled up. On one hand, the answers were coming to me, on the other, I was thinking ‘absolutely amazing’.

Oh, and one more thing. Like the icing on a cake, one little surprise is the guest appearance of a stand-up comedian who even gets asked “what are you, a comedian?” Priceless!

Rating: ★★★★½

About Lloyd Bayer

Besides his passion for travelling, photography and scuba diving, Lloyd is a prolific film critic having contributed hundreds of film reviews to web and print journals, including IMDb and local daily Khaleej Times.