Volume 107, Issue 7 Entertainment
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Cousin It


Gyllenhaal source of excellence

By Jordan Schettle
posted April 20, 2011

Almost everyone has wondered at some point what it would be like to be another person. Similarly, people often wonder what it is like to die. It is unlikely that one often considers suddenly waking up as another person, dying as that person, and then being told that they must experience that death over and over again. Director Duncan Jones (Moon) explores this startling scenario in his new science fiction mystery thriller, Source Code.

In the film, Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal, Donnie Darko), a helicopter pilot for the U.S. army, awakes on a train with no recollection of how he ended up there. Almost instantaneously, a woman by the name of Christina (Michelle Monaghan, Eagle Eye) sits down opposite him and begins talking as if continuing a prior conversation. As he begins to grip reality, Colter attempts to convince Christina that he has never met her in his life. He is cut off by a sudden explosion that massacres everyone on the train. Colter then wakes up in an isolation chamber where a woman named Goodwin (Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air) starts speaking to him through a computer screen.

She explains that he is part of a secret government program called Beleaguered Castle. She continues to inform him that through a device called the Source Code, he had experienced the last eight minutes of the life of a man named Sean Fentress, who died in the explosion in an alternate reality. Colter then learns that there was a bomb on the train and that his mission is to find the person who planted it in order to prevent the future bombing of downtown Chicago. Thus, he must continue to relive the end of Fentress’ life until he accomplishes this goal. After beginning to develop feelings for Christina, Colter must decide whether to simply act for his country or attempt to save her despite the seemingly impossible nature of the feat.

Jones has proved himself a fantastic director of science fiction with previous work, and Source Code is no exception. He has a way of making great meaning out of what seem to be minor details. He also spares viewers of clichéd cinematic elements and, much like Christopher Nolan’s Inception, forces the mind of the viewer to travel many avenues of thought while trying to uncover climactic truths behind the film’s plot before its conclusion. Sadly, it appears as though Jones gave little effort towards the ending of Source Code, giving the impression that his pool of great ideas dried up during the falling action.

Despite this setback, acting alone could carry the film to success. Gyllenhaal lives up to his reputation and is superb in the lead role. Also pulling his weight is Jeffrey Wright (Casino Royale), an extremely underrated actor who plays the cynical, glory seeking project leader of Beleaguered Castle, Dr. Rutledge.

Source Code attempts to be a realistic sci-fi thriller, but it doesn’t fully succeed due to its somewhat unsatisfying and confusing conclusion. However, when only considering the superb acting and its captivating development until the end, it is truly a thoroughly enjoyable film.

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