Every second you read this is a second you don’t spend watching Source Code. In fact, at a theatre somewhere in the world, Source Code is about to start and you’re going to miss it because you’ve just read this sentence. Well, perhaps not just because of that. Maybe the traffic’s bad. Or maybe you need to wait for a babysitter. Or perhaps you’ve just finished your dinner and you think you need to wait an hour before you do anything else — although if this is the case, you may be confusing watching Source Code with swimming.

Source Code, in case you’re wondering, is the second film from Duncan Jones, who you may remember from Moon and David Bowie’s loins. Moon, by any standard, was an amazing film; classic sci-fi told with attention to storytelling and character and not so much on things exploding.

Well, it’s pleasing to note that this delicious debut looks to have been more than a lucky punt. Everything that was great about Moon is alive and well and pulsing through the veins of Source Code and as an added bonus, something explodes every eight minutes or so. Since Inception and Adjustment Bureau, it’s perhaps not quite so unusual to come across a mainstream science fiction movie that understands its audience has a brain but in any event, Source Code is a more than worthy addition to the stable. One can only hope that the budget surely afforded to Duncan Jones after his first two efforts isn’t enough to tempt him from the exciting path he’s on.

A remarkably buff Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko, Brokeback Mountain) plays Capt. Colter Stevens who wakes to find himself in the body of Sean Fentress, sitting on a train he doesn’t remember boarding, across from a woman he doesn’t recognise but who insists she knows him (Christina played by Michelle Monaghan of Due Date and Gone Baby Gone fame). Eight minutes later, a bomb goes off on the train, killing everyone on board and hurling our hero back to a mysterious capsule where he communicates with his commanding officer (Vera Farmiga) and learns that his mission is to replay those eight minutes inside Sean Fentress’s body until he can identify the bomber. But the clock is ticking down to further atrocities and, as you’d expect, millions of lives are at risk.

If that all sounds like what would happen if Quantum Leap and Groundhog Day had too much wine and decided to share a room, then you’re probably not too wide off the mark but you’re certainly missing some of the movie’s finer points.

Jones combines concept sci-fi with romance, humour, theoretical quantum physics, consequentialist philosophy and hi-octane thrills and does it in an hour-and-a-half and in such a way that is still a joy to absorb and engage. Shame on McG. Shame on Michael Bay. Shame on every other director in the world who thinks they can serve up two hours of random mince, explosions and plot famines as an alternative to decent storytelling.

Performances from the leads are right on the money — and I really need to stop being surprised by how much I enjoy Jake Gyllenhaal — but special mention has to go to Vera Farmiga. The last I saw of her was in Henry’s Crime and before that in Up in the Air and although she hardly put a foot wrong in both films. she was just born to play the role of Goodwin, the seemingly starchy connection between Colter Stevens and the “real” world.

If the movie has a failing then perhaps the very last few minutes of pretty bow fixing are a little heavy-handed but in its defence, the bow is very pretty indeed, is tied with love and care and is probably one of those bows you’d happily pay another £7 to go see being affixed again.

Advertisements