Jones talents first appeared in his debut film, Moon, and it is on display again in his slightly more accessible follow-up film, Source Code. The plot focuses on a decorated army helicopter pilot, Capt. Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) who takes part in an experimental military program known as the Source Code. Created by Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright) and conducted with the assistance of Capt. Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga), the Source Code is a device that allows Stevens to go into the body of another man during the last minutes of his life to solve the mysterious bombing of a passenger train. Given only eight minutes to solve the crime, Stevens must relieve the same events over and over again until his mission is complete. Unfortunately Steven’s objective becomes blurred when he begins to fall for Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan), a passenger on the ill-fated train.
While more commercially accessible than Duncan Jone’s debut film, Source Code is a well crafted film that is far smarter than the trailers lead you to believe. In short, this is how high concept blockbusters should be done. Jones has found a creative way to make familiar themes of duty, morality, and isolation feel fresh and interesting again. Unlike Moon, which falters in the last act, Source Code manages to get better. Is it too accessible? Some may feel so. Though I do not see how Jones could make it any denser and still maintain its commercial appeal.
The performances in the film are very good across the board. After sleepwalking through the Prince of Persia film, Jake Gyllenhaal seems invigorated again. He finally gets a role that really plays to his strengths as an actor. Jeffrey Wright delivers another one of his usually strong performances as the hard-nose scientist though I would have like to see a little more development with his character. The real scene stealer for me in the film was Vera Farmiga. She gives a subtle, but effective performance as Capt. Goodwin. Farmiga perfectly brings out the conflict that Goodwin has between her sense of duty towards the program and her compassion towards Stevens as a person.
Is Source Code better than Moon? To me they are too vastly different beasts altogether. I did not have as many issues with Source Code as I did with the last act of Moon, but I would say that Moon is a far deeper film. Regardless, Source Code is a film that can easily stand on, and should be judged by, its own merits. Duncan Jones has crafted a good film that continues to show his potential to be one of the better directors of this generation.