Source Code, the new film from director Duncan Jones, is a compelling blend of old-fashioned science fiction, classic ticking clock thriller, and new age theophilosophical what if.
Army Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) has had his consciousness plugged into the memory remains of a man who died in a train bombing this morning. He has eight minutes to scour the dead man’s final thoughts for clues to who planted the bomb in order to prevent an even larger bomb being detonated later. The problem is the experience of being inserted into this “source code” simulation is disorienting, and it takes several attempts, each one ultimately ending in Colter “dying” himself in the explosion, for the Captain to find his footing and start his investigation effectively.
So the old-fashioned sci-fi obviously comes from the fantastical technology that allows a man to be transported into the memories of a dead man, and to move about freely within that memory world. The ticking clock aspect of the story, equally obviously, comes from the eight minute window in which to search for a mad bomber. Though the train Colter is riding on is only a flashback of a train, and it has already been destroyed, the knowledge that back in the real world the bomber remains at large and is planning to detonate a much larger bomb in the middle of Chicago keeps ratcheting up the tension with every failed attempt.
As for the theophilosophical element…?