Friday, December 28, 2012

Worth Mentioning - Acknowledging End of Pattern

We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning.

Planes and trains take Cody out of 2012.

RED EYE (2005)

Director Wes Craven took a rare detour out of the horror genre to make this thriller, in which an explosive assassination plot revolves around the interaction between two passengers on a red eye flight from Dallas to Miami.

One of those passengers is Miami hotel manager Lisa Reisert, the other is the charming man seated beside her, a man with the unlikely name Jackson Rippner. Lisa's having a bad enough time, being on the way home from her grandmother's funeral, but her day is about to get much worse. As soon as their plane takes off, Rippner's facade of friendliness begins to fall apart and it becomes obvious that his unlikely name is actually a cheeky pseudonym. Rippner is a bad guy, a sort of gun-for-hire who gets paid to facilitate acts of terrorism. The job he's currently working on involves the hotel Lisa works at and the new Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, who will be checking into the hotel in the early morning. Rippner needs Lisa to pull some strings to put the government employee in the right place at the right time... and to make sure she does so, he threatens the life of her father, a man who worries a lot about his daughter's well-being and is anxiously awaiting her arrival in Miami. Unbeknownst to him, a knife-wielding hitman sits outside his house.

The story is simple, Craven keeps the tension level high through much of the lean, fast paced 85 minute running time (80 when the end credits begin) and it's carried off by a strong cast led by Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy, and Brian Cox, with Jayma Mays in a fun supporting role and an appearance by Survivor contestant Colby Donaldson as a Secret Service agent.

It all builds to an exciting third act, in which Craven's horror experience pays off with a great, deadly game of cat and mouse played by Lisa and Rippner.

Another enjoyable, fast paced, vehicle based thriller is


At 7:48am, a bomb was detonated aboard a Chicago commuter train. Authorities believe that the train bombing is just the first in a series of attacks, a letter of intent, with the follow-up being much larger: there's a threat of a dirty bomb being set off right in downtown Chicago.

An experimental military program is activated in attempt to avert this crisis. U.S. Army helicopter pilot Captain Colter Stevens has been unwittingly recruited for this mission. The last thing Stevens knew, he was taking RPG fire in Afghanistan, but now he's awoken aboard the commuter train minutes before the explosion, his consciousness in the body of one of the soon-to-be victims, a school teacher named Sean Fentress.

Stevens is in what is called the "source code", which has used the short term memory track of Fentress's mind to recreate the final moments on the train as a sort of virtual reality world, "a parallel reality", for Stevens to navigate through. Within this world, he is meant to find out who planted the bomb on the train so authorities can stop the bomber before the dirty bomb is detonated. Stevens only has 8 minutes to do so, the length of the memory track, before the train explodes. Fortunately, the only ticking clock he really has to worry about is when the second bombing will occur, because if he's blown up on the train the source code can be reset and he can start over again at the top of the 8 minutes. He has to live through the 8 minutes several times over the course of the film as he tries to accomplish his objectives. Director Duncan Jones and writer Ben Ripley did good work keeping things interesting as Stevens has to replay certain scenarios until he gets things just right, the repetition never gets tedious.

While Stevens' mission within the source code provides some good tension and suspense, the film also has an involving dramatic plotline dealing with his confusion about how exactly he became part of this program and his desire to get in contact with his father. He's also given a romantic interest in the form of Christina Warren, a fellow commuter who regularly chats with Fentress during their train rides to work.

A sci-fi actioner with the hero's consciousness being within the body of someone else is reminiscent of Trancers, Sean Fentress has some things in common with that film's Phillip Deth, but what this story of a hero in someone else's body attempting to right wrongs brings to mind even more is the television series Quantum Leap. Director Duncan Jones clearly realized that, since he gave series star Scott Bakula a vocal cameo in the film and even had him speak a line his character often said, "Oh, boy." Word of the Bakula cameo had somehow completely gotten past me when Source Code came out last year, I didn't know about it until reading up on the movie after this week's viewing.

The fact that there's a Bakula cameo is cool, and the stars on screen are some of my favorites to watch as well: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright.

Farmiga's character delivers a line that I should keep in mind over the next year in regards to my hesitancy and time wasting when it comes to getting my own filmmaking on track: "Don't squander it thinking. Do."

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