Just when you think reality was getting boring enough, cue Source Code. It’s not close enough to Inception, but it still is bewildering and puzzling enough to leave your brain hurting and questioning what it’s all about (whether that’s a positive thing or not, you decide).

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Coulter Stevens, an amnesiac soldier walking in the shoes of another man before an explosive bombing attack on a Chicago-bound train. It’s only when the bomb detonates that we are enlightened of his role with the ‘Source Code’ – a government-funded program allowing him to live the last eight minutes of another man’s life. His mission is simple; go through the Source Code over and over to find the bomber and prevent another attack.

Or is it? The philosophical perplexity of the situation lies with the constant repetition of ‘crossing over’ into the Source Code. If you had the chance to relive the past over and over again, what would you do? The film is slow in gripping this, but eventually the action and drama take a charismatic turn and ultimately this concept becomes the greatest strength of the film.The graphics and CGI effects are also something to marvel at, with every explosion adding a certain level depth to the action unfolding onscreen.

But even then, the drama is sluggish and the characters – and actors, for that matter – have the appeal of cardboard cut-outs. Gyllenhaal exhibits no depth with his character and almost seems completely disengaged from his role. There’s no belief in the situation as a whole and even Vera Farmiga (who plays an Air Force Captain charged with overwatching the action in the Source Code) seems completely out of tune. Director Duncan Jones had a great deal of success with Moon in 2009 and the cast seemed generally ‘human’, so how did he miss the spot this time? 

Either way, the film is still a great watch, but it’s not a ground-breaking achievement in film history either. It will give you a good run for your money, especially if you’re into the whole idea of an alternate reality. Just try not to pay attention to the actors.