Colter Stevens wakes up in a Chicago commuter train, and he’s very confused. He can’t remember how he got there, and he has no idea why the pretty lady across him keeps calling him “Sean.” Colter goes to the comfort room and sees not his face when he looks at the mirror. When it seems that things couldn’t get any worse for dear Colter, the train explodes. How frustrating.
Here’s what you need to know. Colter Stevens is a man on a mission, it turns out, and he must identify the bomber of the train he was in so a larger explosion could be prevented. But this is not an ordinary mission, because the military has developed a computer program, or something, called Source Code. With the help of this device, Colter will have multiple attempts at his mission, but each attempt will only be eight minutes long. Because we may never arrive at an actual review of this film if I try to explain the plot even further, for now, that’s all you need to know.
“Source Code” begins like a lot mystery/thrillers. We are introduced to the Hero, the Mystery, the Threat, and the Goal. Here, our Hero is Colter Stevens. The Mystery is the identity of the train’s bomber. The Threat is the possibility of a much bigger explosion, while the Goal is to prevent that explosion. Even with its stimulating sci-fi twist, “Source Code” could have been a failure if it followed the formula of its genre. Watching “Source Code” could have felt, what’s a good word to use here, repetitive, if it wasn’t for the guidance, heart, and skill of director Duncan Jones, the man who was also in charge of making, “Moon.”
This is just the second film for Mr. Jones, and it is clear that in both of his projects, there is dedication and deepness in its plot and characters. I know, the technicalities in “Source Code” will baffle most of its viewers. (Anyone who can explain Quantum Mechanics in layman’s term, please step forward.) But what we can comprehend here produces excitement, and there is enough tension and suspense that makes us wanna go back to those eight minutes, investigate with our hero, then, well, blow up.
In the midst of anti-terrorism and Quantum Mechanics, Duncan Jones also does something in his films that isn’t even an option in a lot of movies today; he takes the time to let his audience “meet” his hero. How much did you feel for Sam Bell in “Moon”? I’ve noticed that both core characters in Mr. Jones’ films are in a steadfast search of themselves. And, given their situations, there is a resounding impact in their personal aspiration, and it’s all the way a gripping experience.
The only thing in “Source Code” that I am not quite sure of is the ending. There is a moment just after the climax that is a picture of silent beauty. I personally think that that moment would have made a better conclusion, but this is a superior sci-fi thriller nonetheless, which is something you rarely see nowadays.
“Source Code” is the kind of film that all of us should see in the theater, praying that it succeeds at the box office. If it flops, talented filmmakers would be discouraged in making original, quality, mainstream films, and we would end up stuck with more movies that remind us of Michael Bay.