Source Code and the potential for parallel realities
I just got back from a screening of Duncan Jones’ new film Source Code, so I thought I’d talk about it in today’s post! By the way, this isn’t so much of a review as a discussion of some of the more interesting bits of the movie. If you guys would like to see me do actual reviews on a regular basis, let me know in the comments!
Source Code is the second feature-length film by writer/director Duncan Jones, who grabbed a lot of attention two years ago with his first movie, Moon, starring Sam Rockwell. That film (an independent sci-fi thriller) established Jones as a visionary director who likes to explore the reality of his protagonist’s existence – in Moon, it was the sanity of lunar miner Sam Bell (Rockwell) and in Source Code, it’s the physical and mental condition of Air Force helicopter pilot Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal).
Colter Stevens’ goal is to discover the identity of a bomber who attacked a commuter train and intends to detonate a dirty bomb in downtown Chicago. The Air Force has recruited Stevens to do this by reliving and rearranging the last eight minutes of a victim’s life through a mental link called “the Source Code”. One of major questions in Source Code is whether Colter Stevens can directly influence real events while inside the Source Code, even though he is told by his superiors that it’s impossible. I won’t give away any more than that, but what grabbed me was how tortured Stevens became by the belief that he can change real events instead of just observing them.
I was drawn to this idea because I’m a huge fan of the ABC television series Lost, which developed into a complex storyline involving time travel and parallel dimensions in its last two seasons. Many times on that show, the characters’ perception of time and reality was totally upended by the mysterious island where the characters crash-land. There were times when characters seemed to exist in two realities at once, and it challenged the audience to keep it all straight. Source Code works in the same way, and Jones seems to be asking the audience, “What is real? Can we actually affect events in alternate universes? What are the consequences of transferring your consciousness to a dead man?”
It seems to be part of a trend in sci-fi at the moment, in films like Inception or Sucker Punch. Multiple universe stories aren’t for everyone, but I like them because they often demand multiple viewings just to sort everything out. If a director can create a film that provides new layers of enjoyment for viewers as they watch a film for a second or third time, I see it as a mark of respect for the audience. It’s like a statement that the director believes the audience is savvy enough to think about the movie and enjoy it even more after they figure it out. It’s the kind of mindset that inspired me to start this blog, actually.
And that does it for this post! I’ll include a link to the IMDb page for Source Code below, in case you’d like to read more. I’ve already decided on a subject for tomorrow’s post: I’m going to be talking about one of my favourite YouTubers, Toby Turner (also known as Tobuscus).