Source Code is a sci-fi thriller that is visually impressive with a complex premise. Running of his critically acclaimed, sci-fi drama Moon (2009), Duncan Jones does a splendid job at being able to make such a complex film commercial. Having Jake Gyllenhaal as your lead helps, but we don't watch films like Source Code to find gripping performances. We watch them to being sucked in by their plots as well as mystified by the visuals. Both of those aspects have their moments of brilliance, but the visuals are never given the chance to stun us as it seemed possible.
Army helicopter pilot Culter Stevens is our eyes through the very confusing world known as the "Source Code" which is described as a "shadow of time" by Air Force captain Colleen Goodwin (Vera Famiga). Source Code allows for 8 minites of a moment in time to be preserved thus allowing it to be revisited. Culter is put on a train where a bomb is located, the bomb was detonated early that morning killing all passengers. Now he must use 8 mintues of this preserved moment to find the location/type of the bomb and, the real challenge, find the bomber within all the passengers.
Source Code's portrayal of the American military is as cliche as it is true. Showing them as cold, heartless, duty driven tyrants is not very appealing. As America goes through hard times with economic struggles, war in the Middle East, and the fear of terrorists that has taken control of our country this film can take on the look of the many exploitive films about those many problems in our culture. Luckily we have Duncan Jones, a bright young visionary to create action gripping enough to pull our attention away from what I, and many others, are so tired of seeing.
Colleen Goodwin is the messenger of the film, Culter learns most of everything about his unique situation from her. She stars off as a cold, unintentionally, shallow person who refuses to explain any specifics to Culter, saying everything not related to the mission at hand is "irrelevant." Though as the film progresses she slowly loosens her hard-nosed military outlook and sees him for the tortured person looking for answers he is. Like Colleen I also will not go into the specifics of it to avoid spoiling the great moments of the plot.
While in the Source Code, Culter's constant communication is with Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan). As he realizes the truth about his fate and situation he sees her for the beautiful life she really is. Christina is a normal person with normal problems, she is ignorant to what terrors are really going on. Her pureness and innocence is what makes Culter so determined to prove himself, and his order givers wrong. She fears what he already sees as fate, representing his human contact that he becomes so desperate to save.
Parallel universes and alternate realities are always an intriguing subject to explore, while also one of the most challenging. Source Code doesn't stop with its shadom moment, it goes farther showing a whole other world where lifes go on different paths then what is happening in "reality." Ending this film in such an overly sentimental way that takes the look of a futuristic fairy tale would have been one thing, but not knowing when to stop and trying to convice us all that what you are showing is true is just plain absurd.
For me the going back to a brief moment in time and finding answers is a brilliant idea that Source Code does to a perfection. Having contact outside that moment and changing fates, even if in alternate realities, is a more unappealing aspect. I am able to see the great moments and let them outweigh the weaker ones with this film, but I have a feeling many people will not be able to do the same.
With great craft Duncan Jones creates a vision that is intriguing, challenging with plenty moments of brilliance, but its final vision isn't as strong and now for everyone's liking. Without a doubt one of the strongest films of the year so far. Duncan Jones' direction is visually stunning and works beautifully with a fast-paced narrative. If you are like me and love the action and daring dedictation to a risky premise, Source Code with be a thrilling viewing experience.