Posted November 26, 2010 by Marcia Degia - Publisher in Films

Source Code

After his directorial debut Moon became an instant cult classic
and earned him a BAFTA for Outstanding Debut, Duncan Jones was always
going to be under a lot of pressure to deliver a worthy follow-up. With
anticipation building for this second feature, especially with the
knowledge that Jones was working with an A-list star and a bigger budget
this time round, the likelihood of his meeting fan expectations have
been looking more and more unlikely. Fortunately, while perhaps not
being as instantly impressive as Moon, Source Code is a tight,
intelligent thriller that remains both exciting and thought-provoking –
the result of being exactly the right mixture of cult sci-fi and
Hollywood blockbuster.

The film starts with Captain Colter Stevens (Gyllenhaal) waking up with a jolt on a train, unaware of where he is or how he got there. Sitting opposite him is Christina (Monaghan),
an apparent friend who seems to think he is someone else entirely – a
history teacher named Sean Fentress. Confused and disorientated, Colter
discovers that he has Fentress’ ID and, even more disturbingly, his
reflection. Just as this mind-boggling situation becomes too much for
Colter, an explosion rips through the train, killing everybody aboard.

Colter then wakes up alone in an isolation chamber with only a video feed of mission controller Goodwin (Farmiga)
for company. She explains that he must be sent back to the train and
relive the same 8 minutes, the last of Sean Fentresses life, until he
has discovered the identity of the bomber. But how is this mission even
possible? And why has Colter been chosen to complete it?

This mysterious set-up alone is enough to keep audiences on the edge
of their seats as, with each return to the train, Colter gets closer to
finding out which passenger on the train is the bomber and, with each
awakening in the isolation chamber, he forces Goodwin to reveal a little
more background about how he came to be on this unique mission.

As the information trickles in and the larger picture is revealed to
be a fully-realised and satisfyingly original concept, the action is
kept at a fast pace thanks to Colter being a dynamic and resourceful
military man who knows how to get on with following orders while also
being smart enough to simultaneously uncover details about his own

Gyllenhaal is superb in his leading man role here, playing Colter as a
man struggling to regain control over his own situation but who always
copes under pressure. The script also calls for him to deliver in some
lighter comedy moments as well as some truly tragic scenes alongside the
typical heroic set-pieces, and he handles all of this admirable.

On the other hand, Monaghan is given little more to do than play the
confused potential love interest throughout the whole film. Farmiga has a
better story arc as Goodwin, the guide on this difficult scenario who
genuinely seems to want to help Colter, but is still overshadowed in a
film that focuses almost all of its attention on just the one character.

The film’s greatest weakness, however, is in the explanation provided
when Colter asks how it is possible for him to be placed into another
man’s body. The answer comes straight-faced from Goodwin’s mysterious
and seemingly uncaring boss, played by Jeffrey Wright, and results in
the kind of crazy science babble one expects from a typically
unrealistic movie blockbuster.

However, this is a small price to pay for the stimulating and
inspired events that occur as a result of this nonsensical science.
While the repeated 8-minute window throughout the film seems to consist
of more style than substance, the film truly comes into it’s own for the
unpredictable ending, which, while sure to divide audiences, makes the
film all the more memorable and allows for a uplifting, beautifully shot
final scene. Ultimately, the film is a profound exploration of
identity and ethics and, in that sense, is certainly a commendable
addition to Jones’ growing career.

Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia has worked in the media industry for more than 10 years. She was previously Acting Managing Editor of Homes and Gardens magazine, Publishing Editor at Macmillan Publishers and Editor of Pride Magazine. Marcia, who has a Masters degree in Screenwriting, has also been involved in many broadcast projects. Among other things, she was the devisor of the documentary series Secret Suburbia for Living TV.