Source Code (UK - BD RB)
That's no Moon but Source Code still has Marcus loving Duncan Jones' sci-fi
Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up on a train, but he’s not Colter Stevens. His reflection informs us he’s someone else (y'know like in Quantum Leap), Sean Fentress. Sitting opposite a stranger who seems to know him (Michelle Monaghan), Colter struggles to work out what’s going on and then boom the train explodes. Colter wakes up in a pod, more strangers (Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright) question how much he knows about the explosion on the train and before he knows it he’s on the train again as Sean Fentress and he has eight minutes to work out who caused the explosion before it rolls around again. This is Source Code and to go into any more detail than that would be a disservice to the movie.
So being as vague as possible Source Code comes hot on the heels of Moon, one of my favourite movies of last year, and I was excited to see where Duncan Jones went next. What I will say up front is I found Moon to be far more of a satisfying experience than this, but there’s no denying Jones brings a whole lot to science fiction in both movies. He takes a relativity cold genre and allows us to warm to the characters within them. Because of that Gyllenhaal gets to play and that was an unlikely development that totally works. His character gets progressively more used to his situation and there’s a manic almost fun side to him that Gyllenhaal doesn’t really get to do on screen despite seeming quite a fun guy in interviews and such. It makes for an odd feel to the movie in places and with that combined with the low tech visuals and a high tech premise behind it, Jones displays a touch of Terry Gillian’s Twelve Monkey’s and that little flavour of greatness mixed in with the intrigue that Source Code grows itself has that slight edge that makes it a little better than the usual big sci-fi Hollywood thrillers.
As I said, literally anything I say specifically about the movie could probably be considered spoilers, but speaking generally Source Code was a solid follow up to Moon, even if it doesn’t quite reach that special place as much as Duncan Jones’s first film did (well for me at least). It’s well paced, playful, it really gives Gyllenhaal a chance to shine in ways he hasn’t since Donnie Darko, and while it’s not a film I’ll itch to rewatch in the next few months, I can easily see myself drawn into it if I happen upon it down the line and it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest that given a bit of time away my admiration for it will grow.
The wide shots of the city, countryside and moving train look fantastically sharp and the colours are a touch aqua in style. However when we see the first close up of Gyllenhaal the sharpness of the image is striking. The texture of his skin and stubble is astonishing and the shadows and lighting are spot on.
Throughout the movie, there’s a slight level of grain which makes the image look a little grittier than the cleanest of clean Blu-ray transfers, but there really are some striking moments. The close up of Fentress’s watch is so sharp you could wind it, the silver sheen of the exterior of the train is enough to consider putting sunglasses on when looking at it and the warmth of the fire in the explosion is a great counter to the relatively bluish look to the rest of the train. All in all I think this is a great transfer.
The DTS-HD Master Audio track is a great one that doesn’t overpower, but knows how to flex its muscles. The opening, fairly typical thriller score is very lively and spreads the instruments perfectly across the speakers. Strong percussion, crisp strings and powerful brass are backed up with just the right level of bass and get the mood going immediately. Dialogue is crisp and the atmospherics of the train are always alive. Within the Colter Stevens' pod we get at almost ultrasound heartbeat subtly filling the rear speakers and this proves to be a solid track that really strengthens the effect of the movie.
The ‘Cast and Crew Insights’ (27:10 HD) are short and sweet in their individual selections but watching them as a play all makes it feel a little more meatier than the fluffiness of some of the segments imply.
‘Focal Points’ (06:50 HD) throws up the science behind the science fiction and tells us a lot of how the brain works. ‘Expert Intel’ (18:49 HD) features expert Sergei Gukov and he discusses more science behind the movie's theories.
There are two trivia tracks. 'Did you Know?' and 'Tales of Time Travel' (which features loads of time travel movie facts). Both are good but a little few and far between to make them a ‘must watch’. The trailer (02:06 HD) is the last step before I hit the commentary with Duncan Jones, Jake Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Ben Ripley which is informative and just about detailed enough to cover the lack of any really interesting making of material on the rest of the disc. The trio bounce off of each other well but the track still feels a little one note and never really goes off topic for anything too memorable beyond expanding slightly on what we’re seeing on screen.
As an added bonus, all the features can be watched ‘picture in picture’ within the film itself if you fancy hitting everything within a rewatch.
Source Code is a solid second film for Duncan Jones and his sensibilities towards sci-fi are right up my street. It didn’t blow me away like Moon did but there’s no denying this director is someone who’s going places and this is another step in a blossoming career. The disc has a fantastic A/V presentation and while the features are a little fluffy there’s still enough here to enjoy while they last.
* Note: The below images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over
Release Date: 15th August 2011
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, Streo LCPM 2.0 English
Extras: Commentary, Cast and Crew Insights, Trivia Tracks, Focus Points, Expert Intel, Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Duncan Jones
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright
Genre: Mystery, Sci-Fi and Thriller
Length: 93 minutes
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