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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Source Code

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Michelle Monaghan and Jake Gyllenhaal star in "Source Code."
Taut direction by Duncan Jones and game performances all around help disguise the logical conundrums underlying the time travel-themed sci-fi thriller "Source Code" (Summit).

As for the musings on life, death and parallel existences that crop up in Ben Ripley's screenplay, these are too confused either to challenge or reinforce beliefs of any stripe. Instead we're left—as the closing credits roll—with a perfectly acceptable, though hardly original, message about seizing the day.

At the other end of the film's sometimes grim and often claustrophobic proceedings, we're as befuddled as he is when heroic Afghan War veteran Capt. Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) awakens to find himself inhabiting the body of a stranger. Accompanied, apparently, by his girlfriend (Michelle Monaghan), said alter ego is a passenger on a Chicago-bound commuter train.

Long before Stevens can even begin to figure out what he's doing there, however, the train is suddenly engulfed by a huge explosion, with obviously fatal consequences for everyone on board.

Jolted awake again—this time in an environment that resembles the helicopter he pilots in combat—Stevens gradually discovers that he's part of a cutting-edge antiterrorism operation being run by Air Force Capt. Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga).

As Goodwin explains via a video hookup, Stevens' task is to keep reliving the last eight minutes of the other man's life until he can identify the plotter who bombed the train, thereby forestalling a far worse follow-up attack.

The technology enabling Stevens to do so has been developed by Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright), an obviously over-intense, perhaps quasi-mad military scientist with an interest in harnessing the "afterglow" of dying people's consciousness.

As "Groundhog Day" meets a Kafka novel, the downbeat atmosphere is offset by an emphasis on Stevens' humanity. Thus we witness him falling for Monaghan's character in one reality—their unique circumstances, needless to say, preclude any premarital shenanigans—and soliciting Goodwin's help to reconnect with his estranged father in the other.

Both experiences eventually involve a blurring of chronology—not to mention the relation of cause and effect—that defies sober analysis. But most viewers will likely be happy enough with the surface entertainment on offer not to ask too many probing questions.

The film contains recurring action violence, some of it potentially disturbing, brief gory medical images, about a half-dozen uses of profanity, at least one instance of the F-word and some crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****

Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Leopold Mandic: Western Christians who are working for greater dialogue with Orthodox Christians may be reaping the fruits of Father Leopold’s prayers.
<p>A native of Croatia, Leopold joined the Capuchin Franciscans and was ordained several years later in spite of several health problems. He could not speak loudly enough to preach publicly. For many years he also suffered from severe arthritis, poor eyesight and a stomach ailment.
</p><p>Leopold taught patrology, the study of the Church Fathers, to the clerics of his province for several years, but he is best known for his work in the confessional, where he sometimes spent 13-15 hours a day. Several bishops sought out his spiritual advice.
</p><p>Leopold’s dream was to go to the Orthodox Christians and work for the reunion of Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy. His health never permitted it. Leopold often renewed his vow to go to the Eastern Christians; the cause of unity was constantly in his prayers.
</p><p>At a time when Pope Pius XII said that the greatest sin of our time is "to have lost all sense of sin," Leopold had a profound sense of sin and an even firmer sense of God’s grace awaiting human cooperation.
</p><p>Leopold, who lived most of his life in Padua, died on July 30, 1942, and was canonized in 1982.</p> American Catholic Blog Heavenly Father, give me the grace to be grateful and to use my gifts and talents to show your love to others so that when they see me, they recognize you living in me and loving them through me. I ask this in Jesus's name, Amen.

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