Both Moon and Source Code seem to be films made in the Philip K. Dick model stories where the protagonist is constantly questioning their own identity and waking up to discover that what they believed about reality is an illusion. You see this in Moons Sam Rockwell who discovers that he is part of an enigmatic cloning scheme or the supremely Dick-ian moment here where Jake Gyllenhaal wakes up on a train with no idea what he is doing there and finds that he has a different identity, even a different face when he looks in the mirror.
The Philip K. Dickian weirdness of the opening soon evens out into a more familiar fantastic scenario that of the timeloop, as best exemplified by Groundhog Day (1993), wherein the protagonist usually finds themselves trapped inside a set time period experiencing the same events over and over with minute variations. The timeloop idea has played out in a number of other films, including 12:01 (1993), Retroactive (1997), Repeaters (2010) and Edge of Tomorrow (2014) and Before I Fall (2017), even an entire tv series Day Break (2006). Source Code is one of the few of these that offers up a science-fictional explanation for what is going on. Here Ben Ripley gets full marks for winding in parallel worlds theory as a justification, along with some doubletalk about after-death personality ghosts. After the revelation of what is happening, Source Code thereon becomes a generally clever whodunnit about Jake Gyllanhaal trying to replay the scenario in different ways to find who planted the bomb and even stop it. This becomes more familiar material, particularly if one has watched any of the aforementioned timeloop films, although is perhaps the first of these excepting Day Break to turn the idea into a thriller. The film arrives at a beautifully subtle ending, not unakin to Bill Murrays creation of the perfect day in Groundhog Day, and goes out as we watch the alternate scenario drift on with the principals unaware of it. The minor complaint might be that the films big Philip K. Dickian surprise twist about what has happened to Jake Gyllenhaal is one that you can easily see coming from half the film away, leaving one a little disappointed in that neither Duncan Jones and Ben Ripley do more to hide this or turn it on its head.
Duncan Jones reveals himself as having a fine and adept thriller hand and allows the suspense to cruise along with effortless engagement. He does a worthwhile job in eking out the minor characters within the scenario. Jake Gyllenhaal largely keeps to the screen persona he has created for himself handsome, lantern-jawed and determined and does not play too much outside of that. The charm of the film is Michelle Monaghan of winning smile, while the greatly underrated Jeffrey Wright plays in cold and ambiguously detached mode.
Duncan Jones next made the computer-game adaptation Warcraft (2016).