Source Code: an enigmatic mind trip
“It’s quantum mechanics, parabolic calculus. It’s…it’s very complicated,” says one character from the movie.
Fancy mathematical words aside, director Duncan Jones and writer Ben Ripley’s enigmatic thriller meets sciencefiction mystery, Source Code, is nothing less than complicated.
The audience is literally thrown into the story, chaos and confusion intact, surrounding military helicopter pilot Colter Stevens, played by Jake Gyllenhaal.
Stevens essentially wakes up in someone else’s body, history teacher Sean Fentress, on a commuter train bound for downtown Chicago. Sitting across from him is the enchanting Christina Warren, played by Michelle Monaghan. Stevens, along with audience, is given no explanation to his situation or how he came to be literally in Fentress’s life.
Before he can explore much more into his predicament, a bomb explodes on the train, and the life of Stevens in Fentress ends.
But Stevens wakes up again, this time in some capsule of sorts, being hailed on a computer monitor by “Beleaguered Castle.” It is there that, through the help of Colleen Goodwin, played by Vera Farmiga, Stevens overcomes his confusion and realizes his goal – through some trick of fringe mathematics and physics, called the “source code,” Stevens is able to enter the life of Fentress for the last eight minutes of his life.
In that allotted time, Stevens must find the bomb that destroyed the train and discover the identity of the bomber.
The inventor and developer of the source code, Dr. Rutledge, played by Jeffrey Wright, explains the mechanics of source code as “complicated” – namely, Stevens creates an alternate reality whenever he enters the life of Fentress via the source code.
Basically, nothing Stevens does on the train will affect his own reality, where the train has already been destroyed and everyone on it killed.
Though Colter enters the life of Fentress multiple times, each and every time is different, firmly keeping the audience enthralled, and preventing the plot from becoming repetitive and the audience from discovering any plot holes.
Viewers are privy to the same information that Colter has been given, and join him in deciphering the mystery surrounding his own situation: Goodwin tells Colter that he has been with Beleaguered Castle for two months, but Colter has no recollection of that time.
In masterful style, director and writer duo Jones and Ripley bring the story to a gut-wrenching climax with the lives of Colter and everyone else on the train hanging in the balance.
All in all, Source Code deserves at least one viewing, if not many more afterward.