Despite only having a relatively short 97-minute running time, Source Code is a far more impactful film than others that are a good 40-50 minutes longer. The reason in part to this is the efficiency of director Duncan Jones who jumps in to the mainstream after the success of indie hit Moon and makes a splash.
Genre(s): Science Fiction/Thriller, Drama
Summit | PG13 – 94 min. – $30.49 | July 26, 2011
Directed by: Duncan Jones
Writer(s): Ben Ripley (written by)
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright
Theatrical Release Date: April 1, 2011
Features: Commentary, Access Source Code
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
THE MOVIE – 4.25/5
Note: This review does contain minor spoilers which could point some key plot points.
Director Duncan Jones’ Source Code is one of the most ingenious films of early 2011, a film that is efficient in its storytelling and character development which shows you can make a sci-fi/thriller without the unnecessary padding others tend of have.
The movie starkly opens where we meet Colter Stevens (JAKE GYLLENHAAL) as he wakes up on a passenger train sitting across beautiful Christina Warren (MICHELLE MONAGHAN) but he has no idea who she is as she calls him by a different name: Sean Fentriss. He’s quite confused and after roaming about the train, he sees his reflection in the lavatory mirror and really begins to freak out. But before he knows it, the train blows up and he awakes in some sort of capsule with a woman, Goodwin (VERA FARMIGA), speaking to him via a monitor.
Obviously he’s really confused but believes this is some sort of simulation/game and she explains to him that he must find the bomb and the bomber and he’s sent back where everything that happened before happens once again. The bomb explodes (again) and he’s back in the capsule where Goodwin, and the commander of the operation (JEFFREY WRIGHT), is getting a tad annoyed with the lack of info Stevens is providing. So, they provide some more info, Stevens is sent back once again, this time he finds the bomb, so on and so forth.
Eventually they reveal to him this is not a simulation but is in fact a new project called Source Code in which a person’s synapses can be connected with those departed, and can go in and find key pieces of information, in this case finding the terrorist who they somehow know is set to launch an even larger device that will kill millions. Through his numerous tries, he begins to see something in Christina and tries to save her from the explosion only to learn she cannot be saved. So, through trial and error, he discovers key pieces of info and discovers something else in a clever twist which I’ll leave you to find out.
The film itself is pretty clever and while this is marketed as a sci-fi actioner, there’s a heart behind it. As I said at the beginning, Duncan Jones is efficient with his storytelling, so much that we get to know Stevens fairly quickly and are with him on his journey all the way.
The cast for the film meanwhile is also efficient in that you don’t get a whole lot of character development but through one or two key lines of dialogue allows just enough for you to care about every one of them that you hang on their every word and on their every action. While I give props to Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright – a great actor in a thankless role where he has to explain the Source Code – and Michelle Monaghan, it is Jake Gyllenhaal who carries the film. He has the right balance of charisma/charm, drama and a bit of slyness and when combined with the twist, you really feel for his character.
This is Duncan Jones’s first foray into the more mainstream realm after a sci-fi short film entitled Whistle and 2009’s critically acclaimed Moon starring Sam Rockwell, often compared with Kubrick’s classic, 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s not a big leap that a studio would offer the director’s chair to Jones for Source Code as it seems to explore some of the same ideas, character-wise anyway, of Moon. Sure, it’s not an ambitious movie but the story is easy for general audience members to comprehend/accept but still enough of a independent ideals that probably made the story interesting for Jones to direct.
The film was written by Ben Ripley and the only reason I bring him up is because he was the writer behind a couple of gems including Species III and Species: The Awakening so it is interesting to see what can be done when you get some talent behind the camera because the story here is well developed.
Source Code is a combination of “Quantum Leap”, “24” (without the ‘evil leaper’ and melodramatic/inane twists respectively) and Groundhog Day. It’s one of the better films I’ve seen thus far in 2011 and one I highly recommend, though admittedly the third act isn’t exactly what one might expect from a Hollywood picture (of course some would argue the ending itself is).
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.5/5
The Blu-ray comes with a semi-glossy slip cover and artwork that is different from the DVD version. Also different is how the features are relayed. Summit is using a system that is similar to Universal’s U-Control but isn’t as fluid and there are too many blank spots.
Audio Commentary – Director Duncan Jones, Star Jake Gyllenhaal and Writer Ben Ripley sit down for a low key, professional commentary track providing information on how the project came about, the characters, other actors, etc.
Access: Source Code – This contains many of the features available separately on the DVD and while it’s an interesting idea, I would’ve just preferred being able to watch them via the features sub-menu (much in the same way Warner allows you to watch their Focus Point features separately as well). There are a couple items not available on DVD such as “Expert Intel” and “Tales of Time Travel”. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
There is also a preview (1:25; HD) for The Three Musketeers.
VIDEO – 4.5/5
Summit presents Source Code on Blu-ray high-def with a 1.78 aspect ratio. In short, this picture looks fantastic: the picture itself is crisp, clear and finely detailed throughout especially when we are in the capsule with Gyllenhaal. Black levels are great without being crushed which, again, is quite noticeable in the capsule while colors are nice and bright without becoming oversaturated or pumped up.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio track is effective and wide ranging. You have a fair amount of action since the film does contain multiple explosions, fights, gunplay and dialogue. The action sequences show off the track’s depth while the more talky scenes are clear and understandable.
OVERALL – 3.75/5
Despite only having a relatively short 97-minute running time, Source Code is a far more impactful film than others that are a good 40-50 minutes longer. The reason in part to this is the efficiency of director Duncan Jones who jumps in to the mainstream after the success of indie hit Moon and makes a splash. In regards to the Blu-ray, both the video and audio are quite good while the features are nice yet nothing special.