The “ticking bomb” scenario has been used to exhilarating effect in the past. It is simple yet intense and establishes a real threat for the audience to chew on. Combine this with the complex, elaborate universe of traditional science fiction and we end up with something like Source Code, a contrived yet solidly paced and highly entertaining thriller.
Jake Gyllenhaal stars as a man who wakes up on a rush hour train alongside Michelle Monaghan (who looks rather like the soon-to-be Mrs Prince William). After eight minutes the train explodes apparently killing everyone on board. However Gyllenhaal suddenly finds himself in a capsule at a US base where he discovers his mission is to enter the body of a dead passenger and find the perpetrator before he can strike again.
The second outing from Ducan Jones, the director of science fiction drama Moon, may be a lot more accessible for the masses compared to its artistic predecessor yet it still succeeds in setting up an imaginative, compelling scenario. The sense of mystery as Gyllenhaal repeatedly travels back to the same eight minutes (in the style of Groundhog Day) is kept up, and the viewer gradually learns more and more along with our protagonist.
The performances are all solid and Gyllenhaal is given excellent support from not only Monaghan but also Jeffrey Wright and Vera Farmiga, who adds a level of sympathy and likeability to her character. Things do take a somewhat cheesy turn towards the end; however the narrative is solid enough to make us overlook such glitches.
Source Code may have its weaknesses yet succeeds in captivating the viewer and hence is a solid engaging experience.