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Source Code and some Endangered Strangers on a Train

It’s difficult to review the entertaining, involving, fast-paced sci-fi thriller Source Code without giving too much away, but I’ll give it a go…Jake Gyllenhaal wakes up on a train opposite a beautiful, interested young lady (the beautiful, interesting Michele Monaghan) who seemingly knows him, even though he claims not to know her.  Worse, when he looks into a reflecting surface, he does not see himself—he sees the reflection of the stranger pictured on his license.  Even worse, the train explodes—all this in the first eight minutes.  What we discover is that Gyllenhaal has been chosen –because of a physical/mental affinity with one of the dead passengers of this train—to tap into that person’s memories of the trip (based on the supposition that the brain survives even after the body is dead) in order to discover the identity of the bomber and prevent a possible future calamity .  Furthermore, Gyllenhaal has only eight minutes at a time before he is hurled back to “reality.”,only to be “transported” to the train again by his mysterious ‘superiors, —only knowing more than he did previously.  Think Tron meets Groundhog Day only the stakes are much higher, as the minutes that Gyllenhaal relives are used in a race against time to alter the future.  And then there are more complications, as in when Gyllenhaal comes to care about the beautiful Monaghan and decides to….Perhaps I’m revealing too much.  Suffice it to say, the films works extremely well in spite of—or maybe because of its outlandish premise.  As in the comic Groundhog Day, Gyllenhaal goes through a series of stages—bewilderment, then impotent rage at the inability to alter fate (as his handler Vera Farmiga says, “It’s only a computer program”), and finally confidence in his ability to respond to things before they happen—and possibly change certain outcomes.   Ben Ripley’s script and Duncan Jones’ direction keep things moving, Chris Bacon’s herrmann-esque score transports us to the terrain of North by Northwest, and Gyllenhaal and Monaghan have a lovely chemistry that one hopes—against all odds—will translate  to happily ever after.  In the end, how you feel about Source Code may be determined by your reaction to the developments of the last twenty minutes, which help push the film even further into the realm of fantasy. It worked for me, but whatever you decide, Source Code is one heck of a ride.

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Mike Peros

Author: Mike Peros

Mike Peros is an author whose new book, JOSE FERRER: SUCCESS AND SURVIVAL, the first biography of the Oscar and Tony-winning actor, has just been published by the University Press of Mississippi, while his previous book, DAN DURYEA: HEEL WITH A HEART is now available in paperback.

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Mike Peros
Mike Peros is an author whose new book, JOSE FERRER: SUCCESS AND SURVIVAL, the first biography of the Oscar and Tony-winning actor, has just been published by the University Press of Mississippi, while his previous book, DAN DURYEA: HEEL WITH A HEART is now available in paperback.
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