It’s amazing what little attention we sometimes pay to people in the buses, on the trains or on the streets. Why is the man sitting by the window so fidgety? Why has that woman been talking on the cell phone for the past fifteen minutes? What is really behind all those serious, bored, tired or smiling faces that we might see every day when going to school, work or home? Not to sound paranoid, but the new movie Source Code, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan and Vera Farmiga, made me think about those things a little more. So buckle up, for this is going to be one mind-twisting and unnerving ride.
Apart from seeing the trailer, I knew nothing about Source Code when I walked into the movie theater. When the lights switched off though, I was immediately drawn in by the gorgeous and somewhat menacing aerial shots of Chicago.
Directed by Duncan Jones, who debuted with Moon in 2009 (which I also highly recommend), the movie follows the story of Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) who wakes up on a train going to Chicago in a body that, well, is not exactly his. This isn’t the biggest catch, however, because minutes later the train explodes and Colter wakes up in some sort of bunker with someone trying to contact him through a monitor. Turns out, Colter is a part of the government experiment called “Source Code” which allows Colter to slip into another man’s brain 8 minutes before that man dies. Colter is supposed to identify the bomber, so he is sent into the consciousness of one of the passengers, 8 minutes before the train explodes. He is told that identifying the bomber will prevent the next, much greater attack that will target Chicago. Colter is sent back again and again to relive the horrific explosion, trying to pick up anything strange about the passengers that might be a clue. He meets Christina (Michelle Monaghan) who is sitting across from him on the train and tries to save her several times but to no effect. Colter is told by Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) who is on the other side of the monitor that “Source Code” does not send people into past, so no events can be altered and all those people are still going to die.
Like many other movies that replay one scene over and over, in this case, Colter reliving the last 8 minutes on the train, Source Code could have been in danger of repeating itself constantly and becoming simply boring. To be honest, somewhere in the beginning I thought it was falling into that pattern. However, as the movie progressed, I was not disappointed. Each time Colter returned to the train something would be different: the angle of the camera when he wakes up, his reactions to other passengers, but most of all, his desperate attempts at identifying the bomber. As Colter says himself at one point, “It’s the same train, but it’s different”. Towards the second half, I was pretty much on the edge of my seat, wondering if this could ever end well.
All the actors create a strong and believable ensemble, and Jake Gyllenhaal is easy to sympathize with, as he tries to learn the truth about the organization that is using him for the experiment and the truth about himself. Once more in movies a question about science is brought up: how far is too far?
Source Code is now in theaters nationwide.