The Source Code
Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and profanity.
Wounded War Vet Tracks Domestic Terrorist in High-Octane Sci-Fi
Air Force Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) has been comatose ever since his helicopter was shot down during a rescue mission over Afghanistan. The incapacitated pilot had no way of knowing that while languishing in a vegetative state he was being recruited for the “Source Code,” a top secret program aimed at enabling him to inhabit another person’s brain, telepathically.
And exactly how, pray tell, might the highly-decorated veteran accomplish such a superhuman feat? By way of some “very complicated quantum mechanics” involving “parabolic calculus” explains project supervisor Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright) in inscrutable, pseudo-scientific psychobabble, not in laymen’s terms, which a movie audience could comprehend.
In any case, a couple of months later, Captain Stevens is unknowingly thrust into the role of hero again when a domestic terrorist (Michael Arden) kills everybody aboard a train headed for Chicago by detonating a remote-controlled explosive. The military only has six hours to prevent the madman from following through with his next threat, namely, to slaughter millions by unleashing a dirty bomb downtown.
So, Dr. Rutledge directs his able assistant Carol (Vera Farmiga) to implant Colter’s mind in the cranium of Sean Fentress (Frederick De Grandpre), a history teacher who just perished on the ill-fated train. She calibrates the Source Code’s wayback machine to teleport the time traveling, body snatcher to a point precisely eight minutes prior to the railway blast. The soldier’s subconscious assignment in that brief window of opportunity is to determine which of his fellow passengers is the maniacal murderer.
However, when Colter comes to, he first has to make the mental adjustment back to civilian life since he expects to be engaged in battle with the Taliban. Between this new reality and his being distracted by Christina (Michelle Monaghan), an attractive woman sitting across the aisle, it is no surprise that the allotted time elapses in a flash and the bomb goes off again.
Not to worry. In this parallel universe, Colter can be given another eight-minute shot at averting the impending disaster, and another, and another, if need be. Each go-round in this cat-and-mouse caper, he unravels more clues, and gradually closes in on the diabolical villain with the weapon of mass destruction. As intriguing as this infinitely recurring chase scene is the simultaneous blossoming of Colter’s feelings for Christina, which leads viewers to wonder whether a romance cutting across-psychic planes stands even a ghost of a chance.
Directed by Duncan Jones (son of David Bowie), The Source Code is a sci-fi adventure predicated on a farfetched premise that works only if you never pause to ponder its plausibility. Fortunately, this high-octane thriller does unfold at a breakneck pace, which makes it easy to ignore just how preposterous a plot you’re dealing with.
Mixing memorable elements of everything from Memento to Avatar to The Twilight Zone to The Manchurian Candidate, this thought-provoking mindbender even pays homage to Ronald Reagan’s signature line from King’s Row, “Where’s the rest of me?” for good measure. Here, we have Jake Gyllenhaal’s protagonist emerging from a coma to inquire with an equal sense of frustration, “Am I dead?”
You’ve got eight minutes to figure it out, again and again.
Very Good (3 stars).
Running time: 94 Minutes.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Rated PG-13 for profanity, drug use and pervasive sexual humor.
Meet The Parents 3 Released on DVD
Since we last saw Greg (Ben Stiller) and Pam Focker (Teri Polo), the couple has been blessed with twins, Samantha (Daisy Tahan) and Henry (Colin Baiocchi), who are already five years-old. The terminally cute pair are driving their parents crazy with hijinks ranging from projectile vomiting to posing precocious questions about whether women can poop out of their vaginas.
Their antics, however, are merely a sideshow to daddy’s ever-strained relationship with his father-in-law, Jack (Robert De Niro). If you recall, the bulk of the humor in the original, Meet The Parents, revolved around the tension between overprotective Jack and the unworthy suitor seeking to marry his daughter.
In the first sequel, Meet The Fockers, the addition of Greg’s eccentric folks, Roz and Bernie (Barbara Streisand and Dustin Hoffman), to the mix meant half the humor took a turn towards tawdry double entendres. This installment is more of a kitchen sink comedy, with a little of something for everybody.
For instance, you have nurse Greg being pressured at work by a seductive pharmaceutical company rep (Jessica Alba) to promote Sustengo, the latest erectile dysfunction drug. Unfortunately, the transparent script telegraphs that someone might accidentally ingest a pill or two, so that by the time that finally transpires, it’s all oh so anticlimactic.
Meanwhile, on the home front, Pam wants to send the twins to the exclusive and expensive Early Human School. As for the grandparents, Jack has developed heart problems, and love guru Roz is having a blast hosting her own hit TV show called Sexpress Yourself.
The extended clan convenes in Chicago for the twins’ birthday celebration, which gives the flick the semblance of a structured storyline. Still, it’s essentially a collection of loosely connected skits, most of which fall flat. Consequently, the laughs are few and far between, with the one-dimensional characters predictably finding excuses to behave in accordance with their limited personas.
A lackluster effort suggesting that the flagging franchise might have just “jumped the shark.”
Fair (1.5 stars).
Running time: 98 Minutes.
DVD Extras: Gag reel, deleted scenes, two behind-the-scenes featurettes, alternate opening and ending, a string of “Focker” clips from the film, theatrical trailers and more.
OPENING THIS WEEK
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
For movies opening April 8, 2011
Arthur (PG-13 for sexuality, profanity and pervasive substance abuse). Russell Brand stars in this bawdy remake of the Dudley Moore classic about an alcoholic playboy at risk of being disinherited for falling in love with a woman (Greta Gerwig) his snobby mom (Geraldine James) disapproves of. With Helen Mirren, Jennifer Garner, Nick Nolte and Luiz Guzman.
Hannah (PG-13 for profanity, sexuality and intense violence). Action thriller about a 16-year-old (Saoirse Ronan), raised like a soldier by her CIA Agent father (Erik Bana), whose survival skills get tested when she’s abducted and has to brave the elements and assassins during a daring, cross-continental escape. With Cate Blanchett, Tom Hodgkins and Vicky Krieps.
Soul Surfer (PG for mature themes and an a graphic accident). Overcoming-the-odds biopic recounting the real life ordeal of Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSophia Robb), the 13-year-old surfer who found the courage to swim in the ocean again after losing an arm in a shark attack off the coast of Hawaii. Supporting cast includes Helen Hunt, Dennis Quaid, Chris Brochu, Carrie Underwood and Irie Driscoll.
Your Highness (R for nudity, violence, drug use, sexuality, crude humor and pervasive profanity). Medieval farce revolving around a couple of knights (James Franco and Danny McBride) who embark on an epic adventure with an elusive warrior (Natalie Portman) in order to rescue a damsel-in-distress (Zooey Deschanel) kidnapped by an evil wizard (Justin Theroux).
American: The Bill Hicks Story (Unrated). Still photo-animated biopic about Bill Hicks (1962-1994), narrated by 10 of the friends and family members who knew the late comedian the best.
Blank City (Unrated). History of cinema documentary recounting the renaissance of low-budget movies shot around lower Manhattan by guerilla filmmakers during the late ‘70s. With appearances by Jim Jarmusch, John Waters, Debbie Harry and Ann Magnuson.
Born To Be Wild 3-D (Unrated). Endangered species documentary, narrated by Morgan Freeman, chronicling the extraordinary efforts of renowned scientist Daphne Sheldrick and prominent primatologist Birute Galdikas to save orphaned elephants and orangutans in Borneo and Kenya, respectively.
Ceremony (R for profanity, sexual references and drug use). Romantic comedy about a jilted young man (Sam Angarano) who dupes his best friend (Reece Thompson) into crashing the weekend wedding reception of the older woman he still loves (Uma Thurman) in order to thwart her impending marriage to an undeserving documentary filmmaker (Lee Pace).
Henry’s Crime (R for profanity). Crime comedy about a parolee (Keanu Reeves) convicted of a crime he didn’t commit who hatches a plan to knock off the same bank he’d been unfairly accused of robbing. With Vera Farmiga, James Caan and Bill Duke.
Meek’s Cutoff (PG for violence, smoking, and brief profanity). Bruce Greenwood handles the title role in this high plains Western, set in 1845, about a mountain man guiding a wagon train of settlers that becomes stranded in the desert along the Oregon Trail. Ensemble includes Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Shirley Henderson, Zoe Kazan, Will Patton,
Meet Monica Velour (R for nudity, profanity, drug use and graphic sexuality). Romantic comedy about the unlikely relationship that develops when a down-and-out, former porn star (Kim Catrall) finds herself pursued by an awkward, 18-year-old fan (Dustin Ingram) of her films. Cast includes Keith David, Brian Dennehy and Jamie Tisdale.
Meeting Spencer (R for profanity). Showbiz comedy about a Hollywood director (Jeffrey Tambor) who decides to move to New York after a series of flops to try to revitalize his career on Broadway. With Jesse Plemons, Melinda McGraw and John Prudhont.
Mysteries Of The Jesus Prayer (Unrated). Faith-based documentary highlighting the ascetic religious practices of monks, nuns and desert hermits living in monasteries, caves, sanctuaries and cells, scattered around the Middle East and Europe.
To Die Like A Man (Unrated). Gender-bending drama about an aging drag queen’s (Fernando Santos) desperate effort to erase any evidence that he was once a man before he dies of silicone poisoning from his leaking breast implants. (In Portuguese, German and English with subtitles.)