Director: Duncan Jones
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan
Source Code’s almost risible collision of the bogus science and cranial confusion recalls Groundhog Day, Inception and Avatar. It also shares the isolation and alienation found in Moon, director Duncan Jones’ heralded debut.
Continually returning to its opening scene, the film has Jake Gyllenhaal chatting up Michelle Monaghan on a Chicago commuter train, in a situation meant to remind us of Strangers on a Train. It’s more schlock than Hitchcock, but here’s where good casting and a little patience pay off.
Gyllenhaal is U.S. army Capt. Colter Stevens, a decorated helicopter pilot who awakens to find himself part of a science experiment. His mind is inside the body of an unknown man, the guy riding the commuter train.
He’s informed by a controlling voice (Vera Farmiga) that he’s part of a top-secret program called “Source Code,” allowing him to twist time, space and DNA to assume another man’s identity for the last eight minutes of that person’s life.
And these aren’t just any eight minutes. That’s how long Stevens has to figure out who planted a bomb on the train, part one of a much larger tragedy.
The science is sketchy, to say the least. Jones allows Jeffrey Wright, as the Source Code project head, to ham it up with a wacky professor turn.
Better that Jones should concentrate on the performances, and he gets three fine ones from Gyllenhaal, Monaghan and Farmiga, who invest a good deal of emotion into a farcical situation.
If all else fails, it’s a decent thriller at a brisk 93 minutes, including all the repeats.