I’ve always wanted to see a big screen treatment of the TV show Quantum Leap, and, in some ways, with the movie Source Code, I think I just did.
But this innovative thriller doesn’t stop at borrowing the body-jumping/time-leaping concept of that great program –– elements from Groundhog Day, The Manchurian Candidate, and even the recent fate-changing exercise The Adjustment Bureau come into play. You’ll note, those are all darn good films. And so is this one.
In Source Code, Jake Gyllenhaal plays Colter Stevens, a decorated U.S. soldier recently deployed in Afghanistan, who, at the beginning of the movie, wakes up on a Chicago commuter train with no memory of how he got there and, even more disturbing, no idea why his seat mate (Michelle Monaghan) is calling him by a different name.
Oh, and why, when he catches his reflection in the glass, he’s sporting someone else’s face.
Before Stevens has time to fully explore the puzzle, the train goes boom.
And a few trippy moments later, we find the soldier trapped in some kind of isolation chamber, informed by a few military suits on a video screen (a shadowy bunch that includes Vera Farmiga) that he’s part of a hush-hush operation – a software program called Source Code that will continue to zap him again and again through time and space into the train to find out the culprit behind the bombing, which apparently has already gone down, so future terrorist strikes can be averted.
My friends, if this synopsis doesn’t hook you, well, you’re very hard to please.
Not that Source Code doesn’t have its glitches; the idea itself is enough to give poor Doc Brown nightmares, and admittedly, the implausibilities are numerous. But Source Code is a rare beast that refuses to be brought down by its preposterous nature, rather, it embraces it.
Gyllenhaal makes for a solid leading man –– you care about what happens to this guy, a must in a story like this –– and director Duncan Jones (Moon) keeps the tension crisp and the pace peppy.
Source Code is creative and energetic, just not overly logical. Two outta three ain’t bad.
The feature is currently playing at Vernon’s Towne Cinema.
–– Jason Armstrong is the movie reviewer for The Morning Star. His column appears every Friday and Sunday.