Talented science fiction director Duncan Jones (Moon, Warcraft, Mute) brings us an original, engaging and fast-paced sci-fi thriller with: ‘Source Code.’ Combing futuristic technology, drama, and some short action scenes. All equalling to a pretty enjoyable experience, which I personally believe still holds-up today, aside from a few small issues here and there.
Plot Summary: When a soldier (Colter Stevens) awakens in someone else’s body, he soon discovers he’s part of an experimental government program. Created in order to find the bomber of the commuter train he is aboard. A mission he has only eight-minutes to complete…
Despite this time limit however, the film always manages to deliver its story very effectively, as this sci-fi flick builds-up a decent layer of mystery and tension as to who is responsible for the bombing throughout. Giving the film an almost mystery-type structure alongside its science fiction elements, using the story’s original ideas to their best extent as we follow our protagonist: ‘Colter Stevens’ as he searches for his target over the course of the film, encountering many different characters on-board the train along the way.
The supporting cast of Vera Farmiga, Michelle Monaghan and Jeffrey Wright all do a pretty great job throughout the film. However, Jake Gyllenhaal as ‘Colter Stevens’ is obviously the stand-out, proving that he can hold his own as a leading hero, regardless of whichever genre he finds himself in. Unfortunately however, the characters within the film definitely lack development, as aside from a few short scenes, the film never really seems interested in exploring it’s characters any further it needs to. Yet, with the film’s tight runtime, I definitely feel this was a missed opportunity.
The cinematography by Don Burgess is decent for the most part, never really experimenting with anything incredibly creative, but staying at a fairly decent level for the majority of the film. The original score by Chris Bacon is without a doubt the worst element of the film however, as I simply feel the score doesn’t suite this genre of film at all. Feeling more like a soundtrack from a generic action blockbuster, rather than a slick sci-fi such as this one. In addition to this, I feel the train set (where a large majority of the film takes place) could do with some improvement. As although this is only a small criticism, and won’t bother most, I personally found the set to look and feel a little too much like a set at points, with the green-screen view from the windows not helping towards this. But with most of the film being shot on a soundstage in Montréal, Canada, I suppose the film we received is the best result.
The film does manage to blend many of it’s more outlandish sci-fi aspects with the more grounded science fiction elements very well however. Cutting between the past and the present at various points throughout the film, always utilising the lighting as well as the different sets very effectively as a great visual indicator for the audience. I was also very surprised on my initial viewing to find that the film contains quite a few comedic moments throughout, as ‘Colter’ experiences the strange reality he now finds himself in through some of his funny interactions with the various people on-board the train. However, this did lead me to wonder if the film could’ve been improved should the story have fully embraced a more absurd tone, perhaps this then would’ve made the film extremely unbelievable, but I personally feel this way the film could’ve explored some of its interesting ideas further.
To conclude, ‘Source Code’ is an enjoyable ride, as while I personally find the film much more interesting for its story and ideas, as the cinematography and original score throughout the film can sometimes be a little bland and uninspired (in addition to the film’s lack of characterisation). Regardless, I still find the majority of the filmmaking pretty decent, and it results in a mostly entertaining sci-fi thriller, and a pretty easy watch on a Saturday night. Final Rating: 7/10.