Colter Stevens is a US Army pilot. Colter Stevens is on a special mission. Colter Stevens isn’t Colter Stevens!
A passenger wakes up on a train, confused and disoriented, his last memory is being in action surrounded by desert. He gets a few details about where he is and what is happening around him as the train heads into Chicago, he looks different and even has a different name. The stranger sitting in front of him seems to know him well. The Passenger struggles to process all this new information when suddenly the train explodes.
We are then formally introduced to US Army pilot, Colter Stevens, played by Jake Gyllenhall (Donnie Darko, Zodiac) who is trapped in a dark cockpit and seemingly in the aftermath of an accident. A communication screen glows in the darkness and Colter is being asked to confirm his identity by someone identifying themselves as Captain Colleen Goodwin, played by Vera Farmiga (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, The Conjuring). Captain Goodwin then informs Colter that his mission is to find the person responsible for the train explosion witness at the beginning of the movie.
At first, Colter believes that this is a new military simulation and he is being tested for something using this new virtual reality software. As the film progresses Colter keeps learning more and more about the devastating attack on the train and gets closer to uncovering the secret before going back to start and waking up on the train with his avatars friend Christina, played by Michelle Monaghan (Made of Honor, Patriots Day) talking to him. Each cycle gets him closer to the truth of not only what happened on the train, but also what happened to Colter Stevens and what is happening in his own world away from the train.
Discovering that he can stop a series of terrorist attacks that will responsible for the deaths of hundreds, Colter becomes even more resolute to solve the mystery before it becomes too late. Believing that he has saved one of the passengers Colter is shocked by the revelation by Captain Goodwin. Colter is in a military machine called “Source Code” which formulates a world based on the last 8 minutes of dead peoples collective memories. Colter is allowed to move around in this world based on the reconstruction from the memories involved. Crestfallen by the information that he cannot save the train passengers, Colter sets out to discover what happened to him while on active service.
Trying to reconcile together two separate lives, Colter tries to solve the mystery of the train bombing while trying to unravel the deeper mystery of what the Source Code really is.
Source Code is a fast-paced thriller that does what it sets out to do very well. Whilst some movies have multiple storylines, they often struggle to bring them together. The very essence of Source Code is that the multiple layers of storytelling are essential to the overall flow of the film. Colter Stevens is faced with saving not only the passengers on the train, unknown victims of a further undisclosed atrocity and also saving himself.
The movie uses less than orthodox means of concluding the story with action taking a backseat to the actual story. This is a compelling narrative that provides intrigue, twists and turns. Excellently portrayed by director Duncan Jones (Moon, Warcraft) who prevents the different elements of this clever story from becoming confusing. Whilst the concept and script are very intelligent, the movie is very watchable for casual viewers and fans of the Sci-Fi genre.