Director Duncan Jones burst onto the film scene in 2009 with his debut, Moon. Though it barely made a blip at the box office, the film has gone on to receive cult status via the home viewing market. Many anxiously awaited his sophomore effort, wondering if he would be able to somehow match the accomplishments set by his first film, or if he would join the ranks of other one-hit wunderkinds like Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko). I am here to tell you, not only is Source Code a great film, but I wouldn't be surprised to see it on some of 2011's Best Of lists.
Groundhog Day With Explosions? No.
Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Colter Stevens, a decorated soldier who wakes up in the body of another man aboard a train in Chicago. Surrounded by people that seem to know him, he barely has time to gather his thoughts before the plain explodes due to the bomb that has been planted on board. He awakens once again, only this time to find himself in a capsule like structure surrounded by monitors, talking to military personnel. They inform him that he is a member of a government experiment called the "Source Code", whereby he is allowed to cross over into another persons body during the last eight minutes of their life. The bombing was a terrorist attack, with a second already announced for later that day in downtown Chicago. Despite any actions that may occur during his encounters inside his multiple eight minute "trips", he will not be able to stop the first explosion; his objective is to find out who planted the explosive so that the suspect and the second bomb can be found in the present.
I really wasn't expecting much from this movie, despite my love of Moon. During the past two weeks, every time a commercial would run for Code I would say that it looked like Groundhog Day with an exploding train. I could not have been more wrong. Code is actually a loving homage to the early 90s TV series Quantum Leap. If you listen carefully during the film, you may even notice one of the series stars in a cameo. I can't help but wonder if Jones is also a fan of Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys, as much of the set design is very reminiscent of that film.
Give The Ladies Some Love
As always I did find a couple of things to gripe about, however. The film stars two actresses that deserve better roles than they are given in this film. I would love to know how Michelle Monaghan's role of Christina, the love interest, was directed, as she spends 90% of the film staring lovingly at Gyllenhaal and repeating the same asinine lines over and over. Yes, I realize they are repeating the same eight minutes over and over, but nothing that occurs during these eight minutes lead you to believe that Gyllenhaal would go through the torment that he seemingly goes through during each "trip" back and forth just in the miniscule hopes of saving her life somehow. Then there is Vera Farmiga as the "nice" member of the military heading up Source Code. Farmiga is one of the best actresses working today, and this role could have been handled by almost anyone with an ounce of competence. Then again, everyone has bills to pay.
I can not recommend this movie strongly enough. It is the Inception of this year, only this time made for 1/5 the budget and five times better. While the marketing team should be fired if this sinks at the box office this weekend, don't be fooled by the ads. This is definitely worth 90 minutes of your time.