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SOURCE CODE review by John Delia

March 31st, 2011 No comments

 

 

 

 

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright, Michael Arden

Directed by: Duncan Jones

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence including disturbing images, and for language.

Genre: Action, Thriller, Science Fiction

Running Time: 1 hr 34 min

Opening Date: April 1, 2011

Distributed by: Summit Entertainment

 

By John Delia

Suspenseful, explosive and intriguing Source Code breaks the mold in this thriller that entertains.  The intricate plot constantly changes making the tale gripping and mysterious in a fantasy action adventure that keeps you on the edge of your seat.  Excitement and suspense lovers will get a double dip in Source Code where the expectancy never stops.

Michelle Monaghan and Jake Gyllenhaal in Source Code

The plot centers on Captain Colter Stevens a Special Forces soldier who finds himself sitting on a train across from Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan) a beautiful young lady who he does not know.  He’s befuddled to find out that she knows him but calls him by another name.  Eight minutes later the train blows up and he’s at a lab where his programmer Colleen (Vera Farmiga) repeats the assignment given to him.  He again finds himself on the train in the same situation, but this time with more knowledge of what’s about to happen.  When he finds that his mission involves an even bigger target, he must act fast to save Chicago,

Duncan Jones on the set of Source Code

The direction by Duncan Jones of the gripping script is superb.  Able to keep the plot moving at a fast clip, make his characters real and create an action packed revolving door, Jones makes Source Code a winner.  I enjoy the way he adds another problem in the mix each time Colter returns to the train after it explodes.  Gathering the clues on each of his returns provides the fun of the movie keeping us guessing till the perpetrator gets revealed.  It’s a nail biter right up to the very end.

Gyllenhaal shows fine talent making his character keep you wondering each step of the way.  But I am more amazed by Farmiga who makes her dedicated character go from cold and calculating to sympathetic for her experimental subject.  In support, Monaghan keeps her role malleable enough to maintain Captain Stevens perplexity throughout the ordeal.

Source Code is rated PG-13 for some violence including disturbing images, and for language.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A cringing thriller that mystifies (B+)

‘Prince’ of Persia gets an overhaul

May 6th, 2010 No comments

“JAKE GETS BUFFED UP”

Being an action hero is hard work.  Becoming one is even harder.  So when Jake Gyllenhaal began preparing for his portrayal of rogue prince Dastan in the upcoming Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, he knew he’d have to call in the big guns.

“The development of the character was massively physical at first,” Gyllenhaal says, “getting in shape and learning parkour, sword-fighting and the mentality of a warrior.”

Enter strength and conditioning coach Simon Waterson, 36, whose approach to fitness is inspired by the eight years he served in the military.  “The ultimate goal with Jake’s training was to provide a functional, strong and agile physique which would enable him to carry out the huge workload and stresses he’d have to undertake as prince Dastan,” says Waterson.  “My main aim was to build athleticism—his scenes included sprinting, jumping and wielding swords—but he also had to look amazing, too.”

While Waterson admits that ultimately, Gyllenhaal had to look the part of an action hero, it wasn’t the driving force behind the program.  “The aesthetics were not the focus,” he says.  “I knew that if he trained, ate and slept like an athlete, he’d inevitably look like one.”

Waterson says he created a program for the Oscar®-nominated actor with the film’s script in mind.  “The approach I took with Jake’s training was to mimic what would happen during the production of the movie.  “For example, I knew Jake would have to wear a lot of armor, which is heavy and restrictive, so he wore a 20-pound flak jacket during training to simulate the armor.

“A lot of the movie was shot in Morocco in the sand,” continues Waterson. “So our outdoor cardio included interval training in the sand—we’d do early-morning workouts on the sand horse tracks in London’s Hyde Park, wearing the flak jacket.”

The trainer also employed gym-based workouts—incorporating functional plyrometric and strength circuit training into Gyllenhaal’s regimen.  “We concentrated on movement, rather than muscle so his body would perform naturally.  Jake is methodical; he has a vast understanding of fitness and he made every workout count, always giving 100 percent.”

According to Waterson, he worked with Gyllenhaal twice daily during pre-production, tackling cardio in the morning and gym workouts in the evening.  But the actor didn’t abandon his training once production began.  Waterson trained with Gyllenhaal throughout production, 45 minutes a day, six days a week, alternating cardio with strength and conditioning.  “Workouts during production had to be very early due to the intense heat in Morocco,” says the trainer.

It wasn’t easy.  In addition to his conditioning, Gyllenhaal was asked to do a lot of gymnastic-based exercise to complement his parkour training.  Parkour, a fantastic, gravity-defying practice of running up and flipping off of walls, among other things, requires pristine physical prowess.  And Gyllenhaal’s prince Dastan was an expert at parkour.  “There’s no reason to do a movie like this if you can’t do the stunts,” says Gyllenhaal. “It was all about functional fitness, being able to do everything that was asked of me. So I got into the best shape I could, with a whole lot of running, parkour training, circuit training and horseback riding.”

It worked.  “Watching an actor perform like an athlete is very rewarding,” says Waterson.  “And seeing him perform certain stunts that we trained for was very satisfying.  I always over-prepare for these roles, so regardless of what was asked of him, Jake was ready to give it a go—and to do it with great confidence.”

Jake Gyllenhaal as the Prince of Persia 2

Jake Gyllenhaal as the Prince of Persia

  • Morning cardio/strength routine kicks off with a one-hour run with weighted vest, including 20 minutes in the sand.  Ten sets of plyrometrics (squat thrusts, press ups, etc.), followed by five 25-meter hill sprints.
  • Evening gym-based routine features plyrometric circuit with five exercises in succession, five times through.  For example, Gyllenhaal would be asked to do 10 reps each of exercises like squat thrusts straight into a wide pull up (while wearing weighted vest), medicine ball press ups (with one hand on the ground and one hand on the ball, jump-switching hands), overhead barbell squats (with a 20kg bar), and more.
  • Waterson recommends choosing one body part daily to train heavily, doing five sets of six to eight reps (chest=bench press, back=dead lift, shoulders=shoulder press).
  • To work abdominal muscles, the trainer attacks the midsection from different angles, working it every other day.  Waterson likes hanging leg raises and incorporating medicine balls into exercises.
  • Every workout includes cool-down and stretching sessions.
  • Gyllenhaal’s nutrition plan called for six small meals throughout the day, each including protein, carbs and fats (allowing slow energy release throughout the day).  And even when not braving intense Moroccan heat, drinking lots of water is critical.

The routine Waterson developed for Gyllenhaal isn’t just for film stars.  Waterson suggests starting off with fewer reps and half the cardio, gradually building as one’s fitness level develops.  “Have short- and long-term realistic goals,” he advises.  “Always do so some kind of workout, even if it’s just 15 minutes—it all counts. Never give up and remember, the most important muscle in the body is your heart.”