Saturday, April 02, 2011

"Source Code": a fantastic premise, and a dire warning

The thriller “Source Code”, opening this weekend, has the look of a French art movie rather than a big-budget Hollywood epic, however much the premise may remind one of “Inception”.  From indie distributor Summit Entertainment (quite an enterprising company, in direct competition with Lionsgate) and French Canadian company Vendome and director Duncan Jones, it (shot 1:85:1 but for digital projection) focuses on closeups and repeated CGI shots of various places along Chicago’s commuter rail routes, as well as the inside of a government lab – actually shot mostly in Montreal and sponsored by Quebec film.

The premise, however, is indeed a warning. A lone wolf terrorist (not part of Al Qaeda, apparently) has planted devices on a commuter train, as a warm-up to a “radiological dispersion device” on Chicago’s Loop.  The film shows the device, and that part of the premise sounds more believable than ever. (The only big threat it didn’t mention is EMP.)

The story, however, is something else.  A helicopter pilot (character played by a robust and clean-cut Jake Gyllenhaal) is shot down in Afghanistan, his body bisected, and his brain is immediately preserved in a CIA lab so that he can be programmed through “the source code” to enter a simulation of the train explosion and find the “culprit” and prevent the second device from going off.  The scientists say that it’s not time travel, but “time reassignment”.  From the viewpoint of physics, the premise would seem to violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics, because entropy cannot be reversed.
Other reviewers say that the film reuses an old premise, as from “Groundhog Day” and even an episode of “Supernatural”, as well as Sony’s recent indie sci-fi hit “Moon” (Movies Blog, July 10, 2009).
There are some interesting “mini-drama” situations, such as when Gylenhaal’s character “follows” another suspect at a commuter station, and the other man asks “are you following me?”

Here is Summit's official site
Michio Kaku discusses the movie and the idea of extracting information from parallel universes.

Is the “source code” and example of “Open source”?

I saw the film at a Regal in downtown DC, half full in a big auditorium (in Verizon Center, a few blocks from Landmark).  I almost got pickpocketed going to the Gallery Plac Metro station (a tag team involving a fake homeless person). “They missed.”  But "see something, say something".  I told the Transit cops immediately. 

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