Opening 2 Jun 2011
Story is everything, and Ben Ripley’s tight, well-crafted script certainly makes director Duncan Jones’ work that much easier. They keep us guessing in this action packed sci-fi thriller that disperses information on a “need to know” basis, and holds together to the very end.
Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes with a start, on a swaying train, sitting across from an attractive woman. She tells him she has taken his advice. Who is she, and why is she calling him Sean? Where is he? When the conductor asks for his ticket, he flounders and it is Christina (Michelle Monaghan) who pulls it out of his shirt pocket. The train makes a stop, Stevens steps out on the platform and, pointing at a cityscape in the distance, asks a passing stranger, “What city is that?” Chicago. Back on the train, in the bathroom and splashing water on his face, Stevens has yet another shock: who is the stranger staring back at him in the mirror? He meets Christina in the corridor and just as she says, “everything is going to be O.K.,” the train explodes.
Cut: Army Captain Stevens wakes and is surprised to find himself in some sort of chamber. Is he on a red-flag exercise? The last he consciously remembers was piloting a helicopter over Afghanistan. A small screen comes to life and Goodwin (Vera Farmiga), a military woman, probes as he queries; ultimately she sends him back to the horror he just left: “find the bomb this time… eight minutes, same as before.” He learns his mission is to discover the bomber’s identity before a second, nuclear-devised bomb, detonates somewhere in Chicago.
Goodwin sends Stevens/Sean back eight times, and with each trip he becomes a savvier traveler. Stevens appeals to Goodwin, “…send me in, then switch me off”; we sit riveted in our seats and wait to see if she will, or not. When I thought the film was ending and, with a bit of a fizzle, the bow was aptly tied on this nicely packaged film. Refreshing and well balanced, see Source Code and, “everything is going to be O.K.” (Marinell Haegelin)