Absorbing thriller
Action and suspense make Duncan Edwards’
Source Code a rollercoaster of an entertainer
Ervell E. Menezes Ervell E. Menezes

THERE are sci-fi films and there are sci-fi films but some of them scarcely tickle the grey matter in us. Now with a title as banal as Source Code one would never even dream of an absorbing 94-minute thriller but that is precisely what it is and in the best traditions of John Frankenheimer’s Seconds starring Rock Hudson.

But the strength of Source Code is its amazing script by Ben Ripley. So, when decorated soldier Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up in the body of an unknown man he knows, he is on a mission to find the bomber on a Chicago-bound train.

Stevens’ mind is borrowed for eight-minute spells when he is at the mercy of experimenters Dr Ruthledge (Jeffrey Wright) and his hard-nosed assistant Colleen Goodwin (Veera Farmiga). For starters, he is like the proverbial blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat, which isn’t there. But slowly, ever so slowly, the light dawns on him and the audience at the same time. Like peeling layers of an onion, one gets deeper and deeper in the mire.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Michelle Monaghaml in a still from Source Code
Jake Gyllenhaal and Michelle Monaghaml in a still from Source Code

Here director Duncan Edwards holds the key. With the knowhow of a master puppeteer, he has the audience in a trance. Suspicion is sprinkled like sauce and passengers on the Chicago-bound train are virtual guinea-pigs with Stevens picking on them at random. First, there is cute Christina (Michelle Monagham), who seems to strike a chord but there are others more suspicious. One of them is the bomber and he must thwart the explosion.

The Chicago skyline is familiar as are some of the locales graphically shot by cinematographer Don Burgess. But time is ticking on and Stevens has to do his job. There are action replays like on TV or Cable. How will this humdinger finish, that is the question.

Jake Gyllenhaal is very credible in the lead role as he is bewitched, bothered and bewildered with Michelle Monagham doing what she does best, that is looking pretty and displaying a variety of smiles. Vera Farmiga, a veteran cameo player (remember her in Breaking and Entering), again gives ample evidence of her talent.

But the fare is unbeatable. Not in a long while has one seen such a rollercoaster of an entertainer. Action, suspense and thought-provoking. What more can one ask for?