What do you get when you mix the time travel mechanics from Quantum Leap with the concept of repeating time from Groundhog Day? Obviously something similar to the movie Source Code, which I watched on Amazon Video On Demand recently. And I have to admit, the story sounds ridiculous, but works really well.
Source Code is a science fiction action thriller centered on a soldier who wakes up in the body of an unknown man and discovers he’s part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train. Jake Gylenhaal stars as Captain Colter Stevens, the soldier who has been sent on this strange mission.
The film starts with Colter being on a train in the guise of another man. In exactly eight minutes, the train explodes and Colter wakes up in a sort of pod. There, a woman talks to him via a monitor who tells him that he has to keep going back until he finds out who the bomber is. This is important because the government has determined that this attack is related to a future attack on the city of Chicago that they’re trying to prevent.
The title of the film, Source Code, refers to the last eight minutes of a person’s life and memories, the code that remains behind once they’re gone. Colter is plugged into the source code of a teacher who died on that commuter train. However, as Colter is sent back over and over again to relive the explosion (learning a little more about the bombing each time), he starts to believe that he can change the past and alter the future, although he has been assured that this is impossible.
Gylenhaal is in fine form as Colter and gives a real emotional depth to the character and keeps the film interesting although it repeats the same scenes over and over. Fortunately, the writing is also good in that each time Colter goes back to the past, something about that changes and he slowly learns who the bomber of the train is. In this way, the film also works as a good mystery.
Vera Farmiga is Goodwin, the voice over the monitor that coaches Colter, and she handles her scenes deftly as she eventually finds herself facing a moral choice that she feels she has to make. Jeffrey Wright brings presence as Dr. Rutledge, the man who has developed the Source Code technology to allow this sort of time travel.
The best part of this movie is the running time. At only 93 minutes long, it’s a quick thrill ride with little time for a lot of exposition. Even though the same eight minutes are repeated throughout the film, it is never dull and the action is non-stop. Once the ride suddenly comes screeching to a halt and we get the big reveal towards the end, we feel like we’ve been run over by the proverbial train, but want to keep on riding it.
The end feels right and does not cheapen the experience of the film’s previous story, as well. It’s one of those that leaves us still guessing as to the nature of the technology of source code and as to what has really happened.
Source Code is a fun and thrilling ride that will keep you guessing right up until the end.