Direction: Duncan Jones
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan
Close on the heels of last year’s Best Picture Oscar nominee, Inception, comes yet another relentless brain-scrambler. The second feature by British director Duncan Jones
(better known as the son of rock star David Bowie) Source Code hooks the viewer from the get-go with its clever concept.
A US soldier (Gyllenhaal) wakes up on a Chicago-bound commuter train. He’s sitting across from a young woman (Monaghan) he doesn’t know but who keeps referring to him by someone else’s name. Eight minutes later, the train is ripped apart by a terrorist bomb that kills everyone on board.
End of story? Hardly. Believe it or blanch, the ‘dead’ soldier now reawakens inside a steel capsule where an Air Force officer (Vera Farmiga) questions him via a video link.
What next? Plenty. The army man finds himself back on the same train reliving the same eight minutes time and again. His mission: identify the bomber and avert a second, more catastrophic explosion.
Despite borrowing plot elements from several actioners like Vantage Point, Déjà vu and the Matrix movies, the sci-fi thriller still manages to be an original, riveting spectacle.
At times, some of the effects overwhelm the twisty narrative. At the emotional heart of the movie is the deepening relationship between the soldier and his travelling companion. A last-minute phone call to his estranged father is deeply affecting.
As the war veteran on the verge of a mental meltdown, Jake Gyllenhaal delivers a subtly nuanced performance. The supporting cast is led by the fabulous Vera Farmiga.
Source Code is stranger than fiction all right. It’s also eminently worth viewing.