This is Duncan Jones's first film since Moon, his directorial debut. For those who didn't know Duncan is the son of mad eyes Starman actor/super star singer/musician David Bowie. Although I never saw Moon, it was well received nationwide so Source Code would be highly anticipated amongst fans. So, has Jones satisfied his fans? Definitely, from the very beginning there is no dillydallying, literally as soon as the film starts we are on that train, 8 minutes from going boom. Jake Gyllenhaal plays the main protagonist Captain Colter Stevens, who starts off a bewildered army soldier that in the middle of his mission wakes up on a train heading to Chicago. Not only does he wake up in a different place, but also with a different identity. After he blows up for the first time he wakes up in another completely different location, this time a small pod called the Source Code.
Although he is alone in the Source Code, he is able to communicate with the outside via a computer screen. Talking to him on the outside is Captain Colleen Goodwin played by Vera Farmiga. Although Goodwin, at first, comes across as an unreasonable office worker, as the plot unfolds we realise she does have a heart. And probably cares for Capt. Stevens far more than anyone else working on the operation, especially more than the cold and sadistic, but yet, only trying to save lives, creator Dr. Rutledge. This man, is in many ways, the main antagonist of this film because all the way through you are just begging, pleading that things are going to be ok for Stevens and his 8 minute love Christina Warren, played by Michelle Monaghan. You don't ever really care about the monumentally huge attack on the city that Steven's is trying to prevent. I don't know if any of you felt that way watching the film or perhaps I'm just a cold, heartless you-know-what.
All the way through, Steven's desperately tries to get as much information as possible about, basically, what the hell is going on!? Who am I!? Am I real!? Why me!? His answer, pretty much every time is, 'every time you ask questions you waist valuable time, lives are at risk'. Who cares!? Give the man something! Explain quickly! In inception they always explained quickly, I still got the plot! It was about a group of business people who needed to stop a runaway train before it exploded ending the world, and something to do with dreaming.
But, you shouldn't compare this film to Inception. I know I just did, forget that because you must realise this film is unique in its own way. 'It's Inception meets Ground hog day.' No it isn't, shut up. I wouldn't be surprised if Jones never saw any of those films. The budget isn't too high and there's no Bill Murray in sight.
So the whole thing is a race against time, even though every time 8 minutes goes past we rewind to start that time again so technically, it isn't. Although on the other side of the Source Code time is going past, fast. So it's all a bit complicated and, in a sense, 'utterly unbelievable'. But you know what? When you're watching Dr Rutledge, stumble round on his crutches muttering odd words such as 'mumble, mumble, Goodwin! Mumble, mumble, you cannot alter this reality, mumble, mumble, Matrix, mumble, mumble'. You start to believe in the whole thing. And maybe, in a sense, it is real, maybe a secret government somewhere has created 'the Source Code' and we just don't know about it because we're living in ignorance. I don't really know what I'm on about. My point is; the audience are a very big part of the film. As you're watching it, you start to question, what is reality?
Stepping aside from questioning our existence, I want to talk about a huge part of the film. Something far more believable than the Source Code it's self; and that is Steven's relationship with his new lady friend. I'm not talking about Goodwin, although at times you do feel a bit 'will they, won't they,' about them, their love, separated by a computer screen, a clever concept, but just not as clever as Steven's trying to rescue his love from the past who's already dead. I'm talking of course about Christina Warren. Having to re-live the same 8 minutes again and again and again allows Stevens to grow a somewhat affectionate relationship with this woman, at the same time of course trying to find the bomber. The relationship is a ray of sunshine over Stevens's dark rain cloud of an existence, but unfortunately, there's always the feeling their love could end with an explosion. Could Stevens' find away to avoid their fates? No spoilers.
So, who's the bomber? Without giving it away too much, I can tell you the old clichéd line 'It's not who you'd expect' just to anger the reader.
Jake Gyllenhaal is always a delight to watch. His last film I saw, Love and other drugs, a comedy romance of which he starred with Anne Hathaway which was quite entertaining and funny. A surprisingly good watch as I only went as I was promised nudity. But it is good to see Gyllenhaal doing action again.
Excellent casting by Duncan Jones, it's a thrill ride from beginning to end, even when the plot feels it's getting a little ridiculous. This is only the second of Jones' films, but also the second to be well received nationwide, and I hope of many to come in the future. Forgive me for saying this; if you enjoyed Inception then see this, but keep in mind it's unique in its own way. Do not compare it to Inception.
Best film of 2011 so far, joint with scream 4. Source Code gets 4.5 stars!