I started to watch Source Code in a motel room while producing White Space. Three nights in a row I fell asleep about five minutes in and gave up. Then it showed up in the mail through Netflix. I confused myself because I assumed that I saw it, but realized that I was too tired to remember.
I enjoyed Duncan Jone’s Moon, and was looking forward to finally watching the whole thing of Source Code. I generally like Jake Gyllenhaal, but haven’t appreciated any of Michelle Monaghan’s performances. Maybe Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. I think the film with Patrick Dempsey has soured me on her – Made of Honor.
This time I made it all the way through. Jones deviates from his rather isolated first film with a time-bending action thriller. In Source Code, they can keep someone alive and insert that person’s consciousness into the last 8 minutes of a person who died. I’m not sure how they’re able to keep the dead person alive or salvaged enough to be using his brain/memories – especially in this situation when the dead person was blown up in a train bombing. And that’s when and how we meet Agent Sean Colter, who is tasked with finding the bomber – before the bomb goes off. This is his first trip into the Source Code – and, in fact, the first successful use of the technology ever.
The film is basically a ‘whodunnit’. If there was one fault it is that it doesn’t give us enough upfront in terms of the suspects. Let us size them all up and keep us guessing. Although it keeps us guessing, the actual target turns out to be someone outside the scope of our eye for most of the film.
Gyllenhaal shines here. He grounds the film and also has a strong physical presence. All of this unravels quickly – and they don’t force his relationship with Monaghan’s character (who is fine, but underwhelming). We never feel that he falls in love with her – which would be ridiculous – but he definitely falls for her. Vera Farmiga is good as his handler… she has an icy detachment that works well here. I’m not quiet sure I buy her actions at the end though.
All-in-all this is a smart thriller. And it is definitely worth your time. Watch it in 8 minute increments.