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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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Jutta of Thuringia: Today's patroness of Prussia began her life amidst luxury and power but died the death of a simple servant of the poor.
<p>In truth, virtue and piety were always of prime importance to Jutta and her husband, both of noble rank. The two were set to make a pilgrimage together to the holy places in Jerusalem, but her husband died on the way. The newly widowed Jutta, after taking care to provide for her children, resolved to live in a manner utterly pleasing to God. She disposed of the costly clothes, jewels and furniture befitting one of her rank, and became a Secular Franciscan, taking on the simple garment of a religious.
</p><p>From that point her life was utterly devoted to others: caring for the sick, particularly lepers; tending to the poor, whom she visited in their hovels; helping the crippled and blind with whom she shared her own home. Many of the townspeople of Thuringia laughed at how the once-distinguished lady now spent all her time. But Jutta saw the face of God in the poor and felt honored to render whatever services she could.
</p><p>About the year 1260, not long before her death, Jutta lived near the non-Christians in eastern Germany. There she built a small hermitage and prayed unceasingly for their conversion. She has been venerated for centuries as the special patron of Prussia.</p> American Catholic Blog The confessional is not the dry-cleaner’s; it is an encounter with Jesus, with that Jesus who is waiting for us, who is waiting for us as we are.

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