This smart sci-fi thriller puts Hollywood’s winter doldrums to rest

Duncan Jones’s first movie, Moon, was a great, old-fashioned science-fiction flick—the kind of genre film that comes along only once every decade or so. His follow-up, Source Code, isn’t quite up to Moon’s level (the CGI’s just so-so, and the sappy ending could have used some work). Even so, it’s brisk and compelling—way better than the average Hollywood thriller—and far from the letdown that Jones’s fans have been fearing. (Opens April 1.)

Jake Gyllenhaal plays a soldier who has eight minutes to find a bomb (or bomber) somewhere aboard a Chicago commuter train. He fails, and—à la Groundhog Day—he’s forced to repeat the scenario over and over again. Michelle Monaghan plays the love interest; she and Jeffrey Wright, as the man who gives Gyllenhaal his marching orders, are both fantastic. But Source Code is Jones’s show: The director’s attention to tiny, telling details brings Hitchcock to mind (Strangers on a Train is yet another reference point), and the film’s best moments have the momentum of Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report.

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This smart sci-fi thriller puts Hollywood’s winter doldrums to rest