Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffery Wright
Duncan Jones deserves recognition. Known at the time as ‘David Bowie’s son’, his 2009 debut Moon sent the science-fiction genre soaring sky-high after something of a lull. Not only that, but it was one of the most genuinely gripping and original offering of that year. Now he’s returned to earth, taking a script written by Ben Ripley and managing to acquire Sam Rockwell-standard from Mr. Jake Gyllenhaal himself. And being handed a bigger budget, cast and room to work with luckily hasn’t made Jones tone down on the confusion levels either. The plot sees Colter Stevens wake up on a train that explodes 8 minutes later. Only, Colter is part of a scheme that enables him to relive those 8 minutes time and time again so he can uncover the culprits behind the explosion. Think Groundhog Day meets Inception.
It goes without saying that Gyllenhaal – on-screen practically for the entire 94 minutes – convinces in what could have been an overtly serious role. Through his characterisation of Colter, he conveys confusion and fear of a man who knows he is about to be blown up (again) with a dash of charm and humour. These moments are most prominent when he shares the screen with Michelle Monaghan’s Christina. In short, the Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang star is a revelation. Repeatedly acting out pretty much the same scene in the same place is no mean feat, yet one that she consistently brings something new to through the charisma she exudes. She is a calming presence amidst the chaos. Knowing her inevitable fate on the doomed train aids Source Code in such a way that when Colter is adamant to discover if he can save her from an explosion that has already occurred, you understand his intentions. Vera Farmiga also delivers on a potential one-note performance as the officer who cannot tell Colter too much when he returns to the present.
With Source Code being a time-bending out-and-out science fiction offering, it is suffice to say that multiple viewings are required and will most probably enhance the experience. The film, like Moon, is gripping and original. However, unlike Jones’ debut, the climax – although hitting all the right notes – seems a tiny bit muddled for the sake of debate. This is only a minor flaw to what is a grand system. The film after all is what you make it; and I make it another boundary-pushing success for Jones. My money’s on David Bowie’s son making it a hat-trick.