“Source Code” (2011). Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright, Michael Arden, Cas Anvar, Russell Peters, Brent Skagford, Kyle Gatehouse, Craig Thomas, Gordon Masten, Frédérick De Grandpré, Scott Bakula. Director: Duncan Jones. Screenplay: Ben Ripley. www.enterthesourcecode.com
The gap that has long existed between the worlds of science and spirit has begun narrowing in recent years through the rise of scientific disciplines like quantum physics and metaphysical philosophies like conscious creation. The popularity of those subjects has benefitted tremendously from a variety of developments, including the release of cinematic offerings like “The Secret” (2006), “The Quantum Activist” (2009), “What the #$*! Do We (K)now!?” (2004) and “Mindwalk” (1991). And now another film has joined the ranks of those furthering these ideas, the engaging new thriller, “Source Code.”
Pilot Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) flies sorties for the U.S. military in Afghanistan. Or at least that’s what he thinks he does. So it goes without saying that he’s stunned when he inexplicably finds himself in civilian garb aboard a suburban commuter train headed for downtown Chicago one spring morning. Colter’s flummoxed by his circumstances and by the comments of his apparent travelling companion, Christina (Michelle Monaghan), who’s equally perplexed by the odd behavior of her fellow commuter (whom she calls Sean and with whom she’s evidently been making the daily train trip for some time). But that astonishment is nothing compared to what Colter experiences when the train blows up.
After the explosion’s fireball dissipates, Colter finds himself confined inside some kind of capsule surrounded by stacks of scientific equipment. On a nearby video screen, he sees a uniformed military officer named Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) who asks him cryptic questions about his experience on the train, all the while skillfully dodging his many inquiries about what’s going on. Colter’s initially frustrated by Goodwin’s evasiveness, but he eventually settles down enough to answer her questions, at which point he’s gradually given the answers he seeks.
Colter, it seems, is part of a test run for a top-level military project known as Source Code, the brainchild of quantum physicist Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright). Through this “time reassignment” experiment, the test subject’s consciousness (in this case, Colter) is infused with that of another person (in this case, the train passenger known as Sean (Frédérick De Grandpré)), a portion of which lingers energetically in the environment in the wake of the other individual’s demise, like a sort of psychic echo or apparitional imprint. Goodwin and Rutledge explain that the purpose behind linking Colter’s consciousness with the remnants of Sean’s is so that he can find out who planted the bomb that blew up the train. He’s told that discovering the identity of the bomber is not intended to prevent the train’s destruction—that event has already happened—but to locate the suspect before more damage is done. The stakes are high, too; according to Goodwin and Rutledge, intelligence sources have uncovered evidence that the train incident was intended as just the first in a series of attacks leading up to the detonation of a dirty bomb in downtown Chicago.
So, with that knowledge in hand, and being the good soldier that he is, Colter allows his consciousness to be sent in search of the bomber. In true quantum physics/conscious creation fashion, Colter’s consciousness can be launched multiple times, allowing him to explore different lines of probability with each transfer. There’s just one catch—he only has eight minutes to work with in each iteration (that’s as long as the imprint connection lasts). If he fails on one attempt, he needs to go back and begin again. And he has to work fast, for while he may have multiple attempts to discover the bomber’s identity in the “timeless” world of consciousness, the time frame to prevent a catastrophe in the physical world, where linear time prevails, is rapidly shrinking. Faced with the prospect of a nuclear explosion in a major urban area, Colter has no time to lose.
“Source Code” does a great job of illustrating how quantum physics and its metaphysical cousin, conscious creation, work. With unlimited lines of probability at his disposal in the world of consciousness, Colter is free to explore any of them on his way to completing his task. And, despite the belief limitations we often place upon ourselves about this, it’s a capability we all possess as well—that is, as long as we’re willing to believe in it and draw upon it accordingly when needed. At their heart, that’s what quantum physics and conscious creation are all about.
The film also reinforces the notion that our outer world creations originate from within, the realm of consciousness, ideas and beliefs. In doing so, it shows us how utterly magical the process ultimately is, a practice capable of spawning materializations that mesmerize and startle even the most ardent practitioners. And, as Colter and his colleagues (and viewers) find out, its power is so great that it can exceed even the most inflated expectations, provided we allow it.
It’s truly amazing to see how many recent films have begun exploring subjects like this. After all, who would have thought that quantum physics and conscious creation could serve as fodder for mainstream theatrical releases? Overt explorations of such material have long been limited to the ranks of independent pictures and documentaries, such as those noted in the opening paragraph, but now movies like “Source Code,” “The Adjustment Bureau” and “Limitless” (all from 2011), as well as “Inception” (2010) and “Déjà Vu” (2006), are proving that there’s a viable market for major studio releases that address these topics. While not all of these films have been carried off with the same level of skill, and while it certainly would be nice to see mainstream movies about metaphysics that employ story lines other than thrillers, it’s encouraging to see that pictures examining such subjects are increasingly not just for the art houses any more.
“Source Code” is a smart picture from top to bottom, well written and capably performed (despite Wright’s occasional overacting tendencies). Its special effects, editing and cinematography are fine, too, beautifully showcasing Chicago in springtime (though, as a Windy City resident, I must admit to being somewhat partial on this). It makes for a rollicking Saturday afternoon at the show, an old-fashioned pastime with a new age twist.
As we become increasingly aware of the idea that we create our own reality, it helps to have movies like “Source Code” available to remind us of that. It effectively illustrates our range of options and the means by which we go about accessing the possibilities. And, in the end, the results we get from that process just might surprise us.
Copyright © 2011, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.