The film received acclaim from critics upon its release and became a box office success, grossing over $147.3 million worldwide. Plans for a television adaptation at CBS were announced shortly after the film was released. However, these plans were scrapped in December 2014 in favor of a film sequel. The sequel is in development with Mark Gordon returning as producer and Anna Foerster added as director.
U.S. Army pilot Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal), last aware of being on a mission in Afghanistan, wakes up on a Metra commuter train to Chicago, at 7:40 am. To the world around him – including his traveling partner Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan) and the bathroom mirror – he appears to be Sean Fentress, a school teacher. As he comes to grips with this revelation, the train explodes, killing everyone aboard.
Stevens regains consciousness inside a dimly lit cockpit. Communicating through a video screen, Air Force Captain Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) verifies Stevens' identity, and insists he stay "on mission" to find the bomber before a large dirty bomb hits downtown Chicago in six hours. Inside the "Source Code" experimental device designed by scientist Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright), he experiences the last eight minutes of another compatible person's life within an alternative timeline.
Stevens is unwillingly sent back into the Source Code repeatedly in frustrating, exhausting attempts to learn the bomber's identity. He tries to warn authorities on the train and flee with Christina, escaping the explosion. Other times, he cannot locate or disarm the bomb on time and dies on the train. Rutledge insists the alternate timeline is not real. Later, Stevens learns that he has been with them for two months since being reported killed in action in Afghanistan; in real life he is comatose, having lost most of his body, and on life support while hooked up to neural sensors. The cockpit capsule is his brain's way of making sense of a missing environment. Angry to learn that he is on life support, he asks to be disconnected after the mission. Rutledge agrees.
Stevens catches the bomber Derek Frost (Michael Arden), who leaves his wallet behind to fake his own death, and gets off at the last stop before Chicago. In one run-through, Frost kills both Fentress and Christina, and flees in a rented white van. Stevens remembers the license number and direction, and the authorities use this information to catch Frost, preventing him from detonating the dirty bomb. However, Rutledge reneges on his promise, ordering Goodwin to wipe Stevens' memory for a future mission. Stevens convinces Goodwin to allow him one more try, to save everyone on the train, despite Rutledge's insistence that everyone on the train had already been killed in the explosion.
Stevens is sent back into the Source Code where he disarms the bomb, subdues Frost, reports him to the authorities, sends an email to Goodwin, and calls to reconcile with his estranged father under the guise of a fellow soldier. He asks Christina what she would do if she knew that she only had seconds left to live, and starts to kiss her. At the same time, Goodwin approaches the airtight chamber that contains Stevens' comatose body, disconnects the life support, and Stevens dies. In the alternative timeline, Stevens finishes the kiss with Christina and realizes that the timeline has become real, contrary to what was proposed by Rutledge. They continue on the train, and then walk through downtown Chicago to the Cloud Gate.
When the alternative-timeline Goodwin arrives for work at Nellis Air Force Base that morning, she receives the email from Stevens. While news breaks about Frost's failed attack, the email informs Goodwin that they have changed history. It also asks her to reassure this timeline's Stevens, who is still comatose and being held in the airtight chamber, that "everything is gonna be okay".Jake Gyllenhaal as Capt. Colter Stevens / Sean Fentress
Michelle Monaghan as Christina Warren
Vera Farmiga as Capt. Colleen Goodwin
Jeffrey Wright as Dr. Rutledge
Michael Arden as Derek Frost
Russell Peters as Max Denoff
Scott Bakula as Donald Stevens, Colter's father (voice cameo)
Frédérick De Grandpré as Sean Fentress (reflection only)
Cas Anvar as Hazmi
David Hahn, the boy depicted in the 2003 made-for-television documentary The Nuclear Boy Scout, was the inspiration for the antagonist Derek Frost. In an article published by the Writers Guild of America, screenwriter Ben Ripley is described as providing the original pitch to the studios responsible for producing Source Code,
Ripley first came up with the idea for Source Code, in which government operative Colter Stevens repeatedly relives the eight minutes leading up to a terrorist train bombing in hopes of finding the bomber, he had no intention of writing it on spec. Having established himself in Hollywood largely doing "studio rewrites on horror movies," he felt a solid pitch would do the trick. Unfortunately, it didn't. "I sat down with a few producers, and the first couple just looked at me like I was nuts," confesses Ripley. "Ultimately, I had to put it on the page to make my case."
After seeing Moon, Gyllenhaal lobbied for Jones to direct Source Code; Jones liked the fast-paced script; as he later said: "There were all sorts of challenges and puzzles and I kind of like solving puzzles, so it was kind of fun for me to work out how to achieve all these difficult things that were set up in the script."
In the ending scene, Jake Gyllenhaal's and Michelle Monaghan's characters are seen walking through Millennium Park, and make their way to the Cloud Gate. In a 2011 interview, Gyllenhaal discussed how director Duncan Jones felt the structure was a metaphor for the movie's subject matter, and aimed for it to feature at the beginning and end of the movie.
Principal photography began on March 1, 2010, in Montreal, Quebec, and ended on April 29, 2010. Several scenes were shot in Chicago, Illinois, specifically at Millennium Park and the Main Building at the Illinois Institute of Technology, although the sign showing the name of the latter, in the intersection of 31st Street and S LaSalle Street, was edited out.
Initially, some filming was scheduled at the Ottawa Train Station in Ottawa, Ontario, but was cancelled for lack of an agreement with VIA Rail.
Editing took place in Los Angeles. In July 2010, the film was in the visual effects stage of post-production. Most of the VFX work was handled by Montreal studios, including Modus FX, Rodeo FX, Oblique FX, and Fly Studio. Jones had confirmed that the film's soundtrack would be composed by Clint Mansell, in his second collaboration with the composer. However, it was later announced that Mansell would no longer score the soundtrack due to time constraints.
The film received its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 11, 2011. Summit Entertainment released the film to theaters in the United States and Canada on April 1, 2011. In France, the film was released on April 20, 2011.
Source Code was released on DVD and Blu-ray simultaneously in the United States on July 26, 2011, with the United Kingdom release on DVD and Blu-ray (as well as a combined DVD/Blu-ray package) on August 15, 2011. In the UK, there was also a DVD released featuring a 3D cover.
Source Code was released in theaters on April 1, 2011. In the United States and Canada, Source Code was released theatrically in 2,961 conventional theaters. The film grossed $54,712,227 during its run with midnight screenings in 2,961 locations. Overall the film made $14,812,094 and debuted at #2 on its opening weekend.
Source Code received acclaim from critics. Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports a 92% approval rating, based on an aggregation of 244 reviews, with an average rating of 7.5/10. The site's consensus reads, "Finding the human story amidst the action, director Duncan Jones and charming Jake Gyllenhaal craft a smart, satisfying sci-fi thriller." Metacritic awarded the film an average score of 74/100, based on 41 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Critics have compared Source Code with both the 1993 film Groundhog Day, and British film director Tony Scott's 2006 time-altering science fiction film Déjà Vu: in the latter case, the similarity of plotline in the protagonist's determination to change the past was highlighted, and his emotional commitment to save the victim, rather than simply try to discover the identity of the perpetrator of the crime. Alternatively, it has been described as a "cross between Groundhog Day and Murder on the Orient Express," while The Arizona Republic film critic Bill Goodykoontz says that comparing Source Code to Groundhog Day is doing a disservice to Source Code's enthralling "mind game."
Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times called the film, "Confounding, exhilarating, challenging – and the best movie I've seen so far in 2011." Roger Ebert gave the film 3.5 stars out of 4, calling it "an ingenious thriller" where "you forgive the preposterous because it takes you to the perplexing." Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times called Ben Ripley's script "cleverly constructed" and a film "crisply directed by Duncan Jones." He also praised the "cast with the determination and ability to really sell its story." CNN called Ripley's script "ingenious" and the film "as authoritative an exercise in fractured storytelling as Christopher Nolan's Memento." He also commented that Gyllenhaal is "more compelling here than he's been in a long time."
A planned television series for the network CBS was announced in 2011, and was revealed to be in development on January 4, 2012, with Mark Gordon and Steve Maeda as producers. The planned television series was cancelled in December 2014 and, instead, it was announced that a film sequel is in development. The film will incorporate ideas originally intended for the television series.