Director: Duncan Jones. Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright. USA, 2011. IMDB: 7.5. My rating: 4/4. Timelooped science fiction thriller.
– You seem concerned about the time. What are you late for?
– I’m on my way to an asshole festival. I hear you’re headlining.
(a dialogue between Gyllenhaal’s character and a train passenger)
– Source Code is not time travel. Rather, Source Code is time re-assignment. It gives us access to a parallel reality.
“Source Code” is an incredibly catchy and stylish sci-fi thriller that captures your attention easily and straight from the start. All things are in the right place here – it offers a great story, real characters that you care about, intrigue and a fast pace. Once again Duncan Jones shows us after his amazing debut “Moon” (2009) that you don’t need big funds or epic action to make good sci-fi, and “Source Code” is for sure a remarkable sci-fi film.
The plot is based around the so-called “Groundhog Day” effect, but it is not afraid to expand itself and explore the world behind the 8-minute mark – yes, the repeating loop of time lasts only 8 minutes here. The plot is written in the best traditions of the genre. Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up on a train to Chicago which he never took and in front of him is sitting a pretty girl (Michelle Monaghan) claiming to be his girlfriend (he never saw her neither), he has a different body as well. Last thing he remembers is his mission in Afghanistan. 8 minutes later, the train explodes and nobody survives. Then Stevens wakes up again in the same train. Everything around is the same as before – the train, people, the time… Soon Stevens gets a message that he needs to find the bomb and the terrorist responsible for the explosion. I won’t reveal more as the plot contains many surprises and the story is well written. The screenwriter is Ben Ripley who before that just wrote few scenarios for TV films for Syfy channel.
“Source Code” also successfully avoids unnecessary cliches. The terrorist here is a white American and the repeating loop is always replayed from a different angle, thus leaving no space for bore. The difference between Michelle Monaghan ang Gyllenhaal’s characters is portrayed really well – Monaghan’s character doesn’t know she is in the loop, thus the character is almost always the same with little variations in right place, while captain Stevens actually knows he is in the loop, thus developing considerably his character through the plot.
A special word should go to Vera Farmiga – an American actress of Ukrainian origin. Here she is simply brilliant (and brilliantly simple?). You can see the contradiction in her eyes between the military job duties against compassion and pity for captain Stevens. Same as Gyllenhaal, her acting is very minimal, without apparently strong emotions, mostly trying to hide her thoughts from Stevens, but revealing them through her face and eyes. Check out ”Un in the Air”, she did a wonderful role there.
Jake Gyllenhaal seems to become one of main promising young actors of last decade, growing from a background figure to bright and original leading characters. It’s always a pleasure to see him and as usually, he is very good. Minimal and reserved (and this is often a sign of a talented actor), he still brings tense and believable character of a military guy who learns how to solve the unexpected problem. His character is very human and he is by no means a hero – in fact, we see him failing more times than succeeding.
”Source Code” was a huge success from critics, public and at the box office as well – 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, 7.5 on IMDB and $ 147 millions box office with the budget of $ 32 millions.
Worth watching? Yes, absolutely! “Source Code” is wildly entertaining and has something to
offer in all its parts – a smart sci-fi plot that really makes sense and lets you think how modern problems can be approached from an different angle. It is an unexpected love story without any cliches. Finally, the movie is just fun to watch as it’s fast paced in a right way and makes you really believe in the story. Good job, Duncan Jones and the rest of the team!