The human brain keeps a rolling record of the last eight minutes of a person’s experiences. The record stops at death, but can be retrieved and projected into the mind of another person by high-tech software thanks to quantum physics and parabolic calculus. This eight minute window effectively contains an alternate reality where the actions of the one reliving these memories can learn and do new things, possibly heroic ones. That is the premise upon which Source Code is built.
The film, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, could be termed a “physchotechnical thriller” in the same vein as Inception, assuming that term existed previous to the writing of this article. The difference is that, instead of massive dreamscapes and a transpacitifc flight, the movie alternates between the train and surroundings of replayed reality and the lab in which Gyllenhall’s character is placed as a Source Code subject. For the record, “Flashback” would have been a better name for this movie, but it was already taken.
Thanks to Source Code’s narrow environment, there is enough time to significantly develop the handful of characters who persist through the various rounds of instant-replay that Gyllenhaal goes through, despite the film’s relatively short (94 minutes) length. Also developed is knowledge of the Source Code system and its limitations; “outside” time goes in only one direction, forward, and actions made in the Source Code don’t directly affect the outside world…or do they?
As fair warning, the film’s pace is not hat of a rip-roaring action flick; there are some slow spots as Gyllenhaal’s character, former US Army helicopter pilot Colter Stevens, gets used to his surroundings inside and outside the source code. However the plot never stagnates, though the viewer should be advised not to make too any early assumptions about the nature of the movie’s world, lest they be challenged later on. This stands in contrast to Inception, whose system stays consistent, albeit complex, throughout the movie.
All things considered, Source Code is a movie for people who like unraveling complex problems, which makes it a good fit for most readers of this article. This isn’t Inception, but it’s still entertaining and thought-provoking, to the point that I would give it a 7/10.