In a way, I was expecting (or at least hoping) for more from Duncan Jones' Source Code, but yet, even though it never reaches the Tarkovskian levels of the filmmaker's debut film, 2009's Moon, with its lonely and desperate insular world mirroring his father's Major Tom alter ego, it is a thrilling sci-fi adventure movie nonetheless that does something not many of its genre bedfellows can manage to do in these days of sequel baiting and franchise building, and that is thoroughly entertain from start to finish.
Taking a riff from Chris Marker's La Jetee (and even more from that film's Terry Gilliam-directed quasi-remake 12 Monkeys) Jones fashions a story of a man who must keep leaping into the past in order to save the future. Not to give too much away (at least no more than the trailer already does) Source Code starts out with Jake Gyllenhaal's Captain Colter Stevens waking up on a train across form a beautiful woman (the stunning Michelle Monaghan) who talks to him as if he is someone else completely. Eight minutes later an explosion kills everyone on the train. A few seconds after this, we find Captain Stevens alone in a dark, dank module, strapped to a seat and an air force captain talking to him over a scratchy video feed. This scene keeps recurring, a la a sinister Groundhog Day, over and over and over again, each time allowing its audience to glean a little bit more of the story.
As the story progresses (again and again and again) Stevens' initial confusion systematically makes way for a determined man on a mission mentality (he really is on a mission) that smacks of a Hitchcockian Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart (a reference made even stronger by the Bernard Herrmann-esque score and Saul Bass-esque titles that open the film, not to mention the general mood of the movie itself that seems highly influenced by the master of suspense) and keeps the story going, even after it might otherwise fall to convoluted mush. A smartly devised movie (perhaps too much so for the typical mainstream moviegoer) Jones may not have trumped his debut here, but has certainly given the multiplex the kind of jolt it needs every now and again. The true bon mot though, is the casting of Scott Bakula as the voice of Stevens' father (the character is only heard, never shown). The original Quantum Leaper sires the.....well, you get it. [04/06/11]