Great premise helps to keep affairs of interest as you really feel like you're in the skins of the protagonist and gets thrown into the line of action and quest. The science-fiction plot complexity doesn't explain itself but doesn't need to, as you get sucked into the bewildering concept of reliving past memories as a parallel realm with a good performance by Gyllenhaal.
When decorated soldier Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up in the body of an unknown man, he discovers he’s part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train. In an assignment unlike any he’s ever known, he learns he’s part of a government experiment called the “Source Code,” a program that enables him to cross over into another man's identity in the last 8 minutes of his life. With a second, much larger target threatening to kill millions in downtown Chicago, Colter re-lives the incident over and over again, gathering clues each time, until he can solve the mystery of who is behind the bombs and prevent the next attack. Filled with mind-boggling twists and heart-pounding suspense, Source Code is a smart action-thriller directed by Duncan Jones (Moon) also starring Michelle Monaghan (Eagle Eye, Due Date), Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air, The Departed), and Jeffrey Wright (Quantum of Solace, Syriana).
Source Code opens right into the middle of confusion for us, akin to how it is for Colter. Jarring us with more complexity as he soon realises that he doesn't have a single clue of his situation - sitting in a train with a stranger lady opposite him who speaks as if they've been close, until his existence in someone else's body speeds us up to an understanding that it probably is science-fiction at work.
8 minutes tick by and then another stunning revelation. And another. And more.
Now it is difficult not to render spoilers and go on discussing about this film here, since most of the film's essence derives from these intriguing plot transitions. So if you do intend to watch this film (which I seriously recommend that you do), do refrain from browsing right after the end of this sentence.
We get "teleported" back into a claustrophobic capsule right after an unexpected train explosion that killed Colter and Christina (it is not usual for any main leads to perish within the first 15 minutes) and soon find Stevens questioning an electronic display of a Captain Goodwin, who is later revealed to be his "handler" of some classified military project.
This project is none other than "Source Code".
The concept behind it is pretty complex in nature, even the man who developed the programme declined to even try explaining it to Colter simply by saying it's quantum physics. Somehow quantum physics seems to be the key phrase to go to these days when a film tries to instill a sense that a subject is beyond the average minds.
But rest assured that it doesn't need to be explained as it serves as a premise build-up.
Having the technology to map one's mind onto the final 8 minutes of someone else's memories is mind-blowing and audacious in nature. Keeping in check with the high odds of running out of plausibility, it is a wonder that screenwriter Ben Ripley manages to pull it off without having to go to the crazy extents of explaining science.
From the cool science and technology, we get more into the characters as the film progresses.
The rationale behind reliving a deceased victim's final 8 minutes is to investigate and solve the mystery of the train bombing, hopefully being able to get a hold of the bomber's identity before the next threat materialises with catastrophic consequences. This involves sending Colter back and forth several times and poses as a risky suicidal strategy that might bore the audience. Not only does it not kill itself off, this plot tool is where it shines as every trip displays a different path taken by Colter.
Allowing Colter and Christina more screen time together, this aids in building rapport within themselves and between the audience. Likewise for Colter and Goodwin whenever he returns back from Source Code. Kudos to Gyllenhaal's credible portrayal of a confused man who gets thrown back and forth between the two parallel realms, because when he gets worked up in confusion we do too. Gyllenhaal's act is really critical for this film as the audience is placed within the first-person perspective (not visually though, it's just a stand as we don't view the happenings through Colter's physical vision) and discovers the mysteries of this film alongside him.
To the reality, the source code is nothing more than creating and reassessing past memories. But at the end of the film, Colter mentions that it actually opens up a whole new world.
This idea really got me spinning into deeper thoughts.
Besides the great sci-fi story arc, there's the occasional thrills and laughs. You might be pleasantly surprised that comedian Russell Peters gets an appearance in the film as a train passenger.
Source Code is possibly one of the better gems amidst a drought of quality films in the theatres for quite a while, as we gear up for the coming Blockbuster Summer.
(With Special Thanks: Preview Screening courtesy of OMY.sg)