Jones’ 2009 debut feature Moon saw a man struggling to deal with multiple versions of himself on an abandoned space station. Source Code takes a similar mix of science fiction and existential tension, but expands it to a broader scale as a carefully constructed thriller.
Gyllenhaal stars as Coltar Stevens, an army pilot who awakes on a train to find himself in the body of a different mind. He finds himself part of a military operation that plants his mind into a bombing victim, and has to identify the bomber while questioning his own memories.
Tightly plotted, Source Code establishes its rules and runs with them without becoming trapped in explaining the science. Like many other train-set thrillers, the setting provides a clear structure for playing with Stevens’ point-of-view, while sparingly using CGI to delve into his head-space.
Continuing his focus on well-drawn characters in genre settings, Jones’ complex plotting and ambiguous characterisation can be compared at this early stage of his career to Christopher Nolan. It’s a difficult challenge to produce a thriller that transcends its concept to convincingly and emotionally explore character, memory and ethics, but Jones manages all with some style.
EXTRAS ★★★ There is the option to play the film in picture-in-picture mode, in which many of the features below (which can be viewed separately) appear during the film. There is also an audio commentary with director Jones, star Gyllenhaal and writer Ripley; Focal Points: a look at the real-life science behind some of the ideas in the film, including Memory Recall, Quantum Physics and Brain Computer Interface (6:50); Cast & Crew Insights (27:10); Expert Intel, featuring real scientists explaining some of the science in the film (18:49); trivia tracks, which pop up during trhe film; and the theatrical trailer.