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Source Code

Submitted by Commandrea on April 2, 2011 – 12:04 amNo Comment
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Source Code director Duncan Jones told Free Press Houston that there are “six source codes in the film” with a couple of deviations running off of those that travel in parallel universes. So maybe as many as eight or nine source codes. What I’m talking about will only be clear upon seeing Source Code, which opens on April 1. The director, writer (Ben Ripley) and cast of Source Code were at the recent SXSW and anxious to talk about the source of the code.
Source Code offers a high concept take on sci-fi. A military operative (Jake Gyllenhaal) performs a secret task designed to prevent terrorism, a mission that through a combination of scientific mumbo jumbo and quantum mechanics enables him to inhabit the body of a person who has recently died.
But Source Code is not a Twilight Zone episode writ large so much as an involved feature length thriller that pays off with involving characters trapped in an eternal return. Every time Colter Stevens (Gyllenhaal) returns to consciousness he’s in the body of a dude on a train in Chicago, engaged in a perpetual conversation with the person across the aisle (Michelle Monaghan).
Another military agent, Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga), guides Colter through his adventures and a mysterious person apparently in command (Jeffrey Wright), a kind of mad yet lucid scientist, has the last word. Source Code benefits from it tight construction: most of the story unfold on a single setting (a commuter train). Wright has succeeded in inventing a sort of short-term time travel device that can create a parallel reality stream emanating from the last eight minutes of a person’s life.
The audience sees Stevens reliving the same sequence of events over and over. Screenwriter Ripley mentions that he looked at films with non-linear structures like “Sliding Doors, The Matrix, and Groundhog Day. Is there a device?” Ripley wondered, “Not something spiritual but a part of science. Something that would come out of the Department of Defense.” Ripley describes how he came to love the idea of a cold device.
“The idea took a long time for time for me to craft, and I had different components of it at different times,” adds Ripley. “I never over explain in the script where Stevens is, sometimes it looks like a chamber. Sometimes a sensory deprivation area, sometimes like the pit of a helicopter.”
“It’s great that he didn’t over emphasize what it should be because that gave me leeway to interpret things in my manner,” Jones says.
All events being attached to the cosmology of the present, Jones admits that Wright had injured one of his legs prior to filming and that accounts for the fact that his character has a cane and a limp through Source Code.
“Colter is going to die every eight minutes, how do you get the audience to care?” asks Jones. The answer is evident on watching Source Code, currently playing in parallel realities.

- Michael Bergeron

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