- Director: Duncan Jones
- Writer: Ben Ripley
- Principal cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright
- Release date: 1st April 2011.
Awaking aboard a train headed towards Chicago, US helicopter pilot and hero Colter Stevens (Gyllenhaal) finds himself inside the body of another man and with the knowledge that in eight minutes the train will explode due to a hidden incendiary device.
Awaking from the explosion Stevens finds himself part of a project that allows him to repeatedly relive the last moments of the deceased in an attempt to identify the bomber as Chicago faces another attack.
As Stevens continuously awakes from this cycle his suspicions of his true whereabouts and that of both the programme’s director (Wright) and controller (Farmiga) begin to surface.
Duncan Jones made his debut with the excellent Moon (2009) and working with a modest budget provided a thought provoking and heartfelt slice of science fiction.
The tone continues here with an intelligent suspense thriller that ties together many influences whilst also providing moral questions about the use of science and medicine in the war on terrorism.
Jones, Ripley and Gyllenhaal seem to have provided a thinking man’s Quantum Leap with the bomb on the train scenario echoing Speed (1994) and Stevens’ sense of dislocation both in the real and simulated world seemingly influenced by the novels of Philip K. Dick.
The train carriage provides an ideal environment for the claustrophobic nature of the plot whilst the repeating time loop provides a clever means for Gyllenhaal to gradually transform his character from confused to calculated with a few inherent laughs en route.
The supporting cast play their part well as a group of stereotypical commuters any of whom could be a bomber and even Monaghan’s love interest is not above suspicion as the film is given a slightly Hitchcockian tone.
Stevens’ surroundings out of simulation via the isolated setting of “Beleaguered Castle” also give us an uneasy clue as to the character’s physical and mental well being whilst providing the film’s true mystery.
Excellent support comes from Farmiga with her portrayal of the programme’s controller Captain Goodwin, both prim and military her contact with Stevens recalls the relationship between Sam Rockwell’s doomed astronaut and Kevin Spacey’s assistant computer in Moon.
The only criticism that can be levelled at Source Code is that Wright’s programme director/professor seems too animated/cartoonish at times given the drama afoot and perhaps should have been toned down in temperament.
There will many comparisons with Christopher Nolan with Jones’ style and career thus far seemingly in tune with that of his fellow Brit. But based on the results of his first two films here’s hoping that he is given the material and room to develop his ideas whilst remaining his own man.
Following in the recent trend for thought provoking thrillers, Source Code delivers by providing Hitchcockian suspense, science fiction and some chilling moral questions. Full marks to Gyllenhaal, Jones and Co. Enjoy.