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May 17, 2016

Gyllenhaal makes every second count in “Source Code”

Jake Gyllenhaal races against time in his newest film, “Source Code.” As a courageous soldier named Captain Colter Stevens, Gyllenhaal is on a mission to save the city of Chicago from a series of bombings. Through a program called the Source Code, Stevens is able to enter an alternate reality that allows him to go back in time to a train bombing in the place of a deceased passenger. He is given only eight minutes to find the bomb, disable the detonator and stop the bomber. Will he be able to save the passengers – and himself – before time runs out?

MCT

MCT

Through clever editing, director Duncan Jones immediately immerses the audience in the middle of the action. The audience’s confusion at what is occurring on screen mimics the confusion felt by Stevens within the film, allowing the audience to bond with the protagonist. This technique also engages viewers as it forces them to focus on the plot and attempt to put together the puzzle pieces themselves.

With the assistance of great graphics, Jones creates a frighteningly realistic world that captivates viewers. Jones plays on this technique by slowing down time during an explosion to show the individual reactions of the passengers. The striking emotional reactions of the passengers arouse a profound feeling of connection between viewers and the characters on screen.

In one of the closing scenes, Jones employs a freeze frame that effectively initiates heart-wrenching emotions in the viewer. The delay heightens the anticipation within the audience, as the scene could end either way. While he does not leave the ending open to interpretation, it may come as a surprise.

Jake Gyllenhaal shines as he switches between the role of the train passenger and soldier. His facial expressions effortlessly convey his emotions as he delves into the two characters; every emotion is felt by the audience.

As Stevens’ objective slowly changes throughout the film, the relationship between Stevens and Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan), a passenger on the train, becomes increasingly more crucial to the plot. The chemistry between Gyllenhaal and Monaghan grounds this relationship, and the tension is palpable. As Stevens desperately tries to convince Warren that remaining on the train is not a good idea despite a lack of rational reasoning, the audience is drawn even more into the tale and the action as it unfolds.

According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDB), the film has some inconsistency. The bombing which Stevens is attempting to stop is planned to engulf two passing trains; however, in order to achieve this, the bomber would need to be looking at both of the trains. Yet, when the identity of the bomber is revealed, viewers can conclude this is not logically possible – the bomber departs from the train before the bombing and is not able to see both trains to plan the explosion in time. Despite the logical inconsistency, the bombing still goes off as planned. Although such an error should detract from the credibility of the director and the movie, the film remains interesting enough that this problem can be overlooked.

Prior to its release, “Source Code” was marketed as a traditional thriller with a rather subdued love story. However, the film shatters these expectations with unexpected twists and thought-provoking themes that throw this action flick beyond the formulaic tales within its genre.

The film contains an underlying criticism of the American military, giving the film some controversial undertones. This is mainly due to the role of the military within the film, as it engages in some activities that are ethically questionable in nature.

“Source Code” is a great action thriller the audience will want to see again and again; it also may take a few views to be able to put all of the clues together. The film’s carpe diem theme, emphasized by its main line, “make every second count,” begs the audience to waste no time in seeing the movie and appreciating every moment of the experience.

Malea Ritz can be reached at mritz@student.umass.edu.

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