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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Groundhog Day meets Murder on the Orient Express

That's how one reviewer described my movie rental for this week - Source Code. The 2011 film is directed by Duncan Jones (Moon) and stars Jake Gyllenhaal.

It's about an army helicopter pilot, Colter Stevens (Gyllenhaal), who's shot down while on a mission in Afghanistan, and whose mortally wounded and comatose self is being used in an experiment which somehow sends his consciousness into the body of another person over and over again in eight minute intervals, a man on a train who's already died in its explosion, all for the purposes of discovering the identity of the terrorist who planted the bomb. Colter is sent just hours back in time, or to a parallel universe (it's hard to say which), to get information that will prevent a future bombing, but he uses the opportunity to change things -- he must stop the train from blowing up so that a woman on the train that he's come to know and love will not die.

I thought the movie was pretty good. It's really moving on an emotional level -- the earnestness with which Colter tries to fulfill his mission, the sad urgency with which he tries to communicate with his father, the pathos of his realization that he's a ruined non-person with no more rights than a computer program, and his determination to change everything against all odds.

The science was a little confusing: I'm not sure if this was a case of an alternate timeline/ history scenario like that used in movies from the Terminator series to the new Star Trek to allow characters to go back to the past to change the future, or if it's an alternate/parallel universe scenario like that used in Timeline to allow characters to basically do the same thing (but which shouldn't actually do the same thing - ouch, my head hurts :) ).

Roger Ebert gave the movie three and a half stars. Here's just the beginning of his review ...

"Source Code" is an ingenious thriller that comes billed as science fiction, although its science is preposterous. Does that matter, as long as everyone treats it with the greatest urgency? After all, space travel beyond the solar system is preposterous, and yet we couldn't do without "Star Trek." The "science" in this case is used to prop up an appealing story of a man who tries to change the past.

His name is Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal). That he is sure of. That's why it's strange when he finds himself on a Chicago commuter train talking to Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan), a woman he's never met. It's even stranger when he goes into the toilet and sees a face in the mirror that doesn't belong to him. How can this be? ........

Here's the trailer ...


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