Source Code finds Army Helicopter pilot Colter Stevens (Gyllenhaal) waking up in complete disarray to his surroundings on a train with people treating him as someone he isn’t. Eventually the train explodes and he wakes up once again to find out he will be inserted into an alternate timeline for eight minutes at a time with the mission of finding out who was responsible for the bombing of the train before the same person sets of a bomb in downtown Chicago later that day.
Source code has a lot of ground to cover in a short amount of time and a lot of potential plot holes. After all, there is the mystery of who Colter is, who bombed the train, the science behind it all, the relationship between Colter and Christina Warren (Monaghan), a passenger on the train and the whole alternative timeline business. Yet, somehow the film sidesteps inevitable plot holes and questions and manages to make an endearing sci-fi action film because of its pacing, entertainment value, concepts, and performances of almost every actor and actress in the film.
Gyllenhaal is a big part of why this film works as he plays each emotion he goes through with his own edge. Making you feel for him and even laugh at him at some points as he frantically searches the train and nearly assaults innocent passengers thinking they were suspects. I also believed him when he started to care for Christina Warren which is also a tribute to how well Michelle Monaghan played her part as the innocent and lovable passenger on the train. This could have seemed forced as another typical love story shoved into the context of another film that didn’t need it but because of the films excellent pace and acting it actually added to the story. Even the story going on behind the scenes between Captain Goodwin (Farminga) and Dr. Rutledge (Wright) as the two people pulling the strings behind Source Code matter to the film as they toe the line between heartless conductors of a science experiment to people trying to do the right thing and save lives.
Unfortunately some loose ends and plot holes are inevitable with a story like this but Source Code is so well oiled that it runs seamlessly through them as it focuses on the heart of the story embedded in the suspense of the situation and it’s well written characters. It asks some interesting questions, invests you in the characters and manages to be quite entertaining at the same time.