Director: Duncan Jones
Garnering something of a cult following for his low key sci-fi debut “Moon,” Duncan Jones has upped the stakes with his follow up film. With a bigger budget – thanks to the Hollywood studios – and a higher weight of expectation, fans have been eagerly awaiting to see whether Jones would sink or swim under the pressure. Thankfully, Jones has succeeded with aplomb and created a sharp and slick sci-fi thriller that poses as many questions as it answers.
Jake Gyllenhaal (who gives a fine if rather restrained performance) plays Colter Stevens, a soldier who wakes up on a train talking to someone he’s never met before and inhabiting a body that isn’t his. But he doesn’t have much time to find out what’s going on and he is promptly blown up, along with the rest of the passengers on the train. He awakens to discover he is part of a mysterious government project and his job is to continually return to the train – in the body of teacher Sean Fentress - reliving the same 8 minutes, and attempt to uncover the person behind the bombing. As he tries to stop a future disaster, he also attempts to discover more about his situation. Just why is he the man at the center of the “Source Code?”
It is full of clever ideas that credits the audience with intelligence and marks it out as a cousin to recent films such as “Inception” and “The Adjustment Bureau.” Sometimes reminiscent of the great US conspiracy films of the 70s, the film’s skill is in keeping the audience engaged with its complex story whilst providing enough action to keep everything going along at a rolling pace.
It does sometimes fall into the realm of the Hollywood cliche – with the romance between Stevens and Christina (the beautiful girl who is opposite him every time he returns to the train) – feeling particularly predictable, and it lacks some of the charm of Jones’ feature debut. But as a refreshingly different blockbuster, it does its job admirably well.