In Source Code, Jake Gyllenhaal plays Captain Colter Stevens. He's on a commuter train heading into Chicago. He doesn't know why he's there or who the woman sitting across from him is, even though she seems to know him. She's babbling on about quitting her job, dumping her old boyfriend, and going back to school. Captain Stevens is very confused. Are you alright she asks. Then the train explodes.Stevens wasn't really on the train. He appears to be in the cockpit of a crashed helicopter. A woman army officer is talking to him on a screen on the wall. He's on a mission to find out who blew up the train. It's important they find this person because he has threatened to denote a nuclear device in Chicago later in the day. Through some wizardly science, explained quickly with a few technobabble phrases, Stevens is being sent into the mind of one of the train passengers to relive the last 8 minutes of the guy's life before the explosion.
First, I'll say that the characters in this movie are terrific. Gyllenhaal does a great job as Stevens goes from complete confusion about what is happening to him, to an acceptance of the situation he's in, to actively and cleverly trying to find the bomber. Vera Farmiga as Collen Goodwin, his contact on the mission is also quite good as she goes from all efficient we've got little time we have to get this done, to understanding what Stevens is experiencing and trying to help him as much as possible. And Michelle Monagham as Christina Warren the woman on the train is pretty good too. She has to essentially play the same scene over and over, with minor changes each time. The movie resembles the Bill Murray classic Groundhog Day but with the deadly seriousness of a nuclear bomb. Given all that, we liked the movie and I highly recommend it.
The movie does have some problems, however. I have no problem accepting the premise, that somehow, they can send Steven's conscience into this dead guy's brain and that Stevens, once there can interact with the people on the train in ways that didn't actually happen. But how can he find out stuff that wasn't known, and couldn't possibly be known to the dead guy? For example, he finds the bomb in the vent above the men's room.
Even worse is the replay where he actually gets the girl off the train. He's following a suspicious looking character who gets off at a station and convinces Christina to come with him. The train leaves without them and they hear the explosion a few minutes later. Then Stevens gets hit by another train and finds himself back at base. He's convinced that he saved her life, but they tell him, no that's impossible. They even look up a list of victims on the computer and confirm that she is dead. I don't what to tell you the ending but this scene seems to totally contradict the ending.
But I recommend you see the movie anyway. As a story about human beings it's pretty good.