Director Duncan Jones premiered his thriller Source Code at South by Southwest on Friday, bringing a tech-savvy movie to a high-tech festival.
The film follows an Air Force captain played by Jake Gyllenhaal who finds himself inside another man's body searching for the bomber of a Chicago commuter train. Vera Farmiga plays his air force handler, Michelle Monaghan a passenger on the train and Cas Anvar plays one of the suspects. The film deals with traveling through time to parallel realities.
The actors walked the red carpet outside Austin's Paramount Theater on the festival's opening night, along with screenwriter Ben Ripley.
Gyllenhaal said he was a fan of Ripley's script and suggested it to Jones. Gyllenhaal said working within the bounds of the science fiction plot and inside the confined space of a commuter train was one of the most creative experiences he's had in film.
"You could really make any choice you wanted within the simple rules of the world you existed in," he said. "Duncan gave us the ability to improvise within that given world."
Jones said he thought it as a good idea to release the film at a multimedia festival like South by Southwest, where digital gaming and Internet technology are just as important as film and music.
"It's certainly the future and I can see how it's going to be more and more applicable as the industry on the technology and Internet side matures," Jones said. This is Jones' second feature-length film. He premiered his first film, Moon, at South by Southwest in 2009.
While Source Code riffs on time travel, the plot is fundamentally a dramatic thriller, Ripley said. Source code is the programming language behind a computer application.
"The science is more implied than seen, and it's a chamber piece," Ripley said. "Other time travel movies are obsessed with changing our past, but we can't change our past. Theoretical physics believes we can access our past in a parallel sense, and that's what (the lead character) does."
Monaghan said Jones is breathing new life into science fiction films.
"Science fiction is really tricky, and it's fun to do things that are thought provoking," she said. "And this one has a little bit of drama and romance as well, for me from an actor's standpoint it has all of the right ingredients."
Anvar, who is of Iranian descent, said the problem of racial and religious profiling is dealt with in the terrorism storyline that underlies the film.
"The beautiful thing about this movie is that the writer took into account the whole stereotype of this Middle Eastern guy who is a train that is going to be bombed," Anvar said. "It's not something treated in an irresponsible way."
Source Code opens nationwide on April 1.