Source Code (Blu-ray)
Have you ever wondered what it might look like to see GROUNDHOG DAY as a science-fiction/action movie? Subtract Bill Murray, add Jake Gyllenhaal (DONNIE DARKO, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN), put him on a train and give him 8 minutes to find a terrorist. Those are the elements of SOURCE CODE in their most simple form, but the film takes us on an amazing ride. Time-travel movies have always been interesting to me – but this isn’t a typical time travel movie.
SOURCE CODE is a mystery and a love story told under the guise of science fiction/fantasy. Colter Stevens (Gyllenhaal) is a US Army Helicopter pilot. His last memory is flying in Afghanistan, until he awakens on a train. Sitting across from him is a beautiful woman, played by Michelle Monaghan (EAGLE EYE). He’s been catapulted into a different world where it appears he has assumed a new identity… but 8 minutes later the train explodes. Jarred awake inside a small chamber with video monitors all around him, Colter meets Captain Goodwin (Farmiga, who gives a nice performance despite having little screen time), and learns that he is part of Beleaguered Company, an anti-terrorism unit. So begins our descent into a new and trippy world.
Duncan Jones tells this story and within 5 minutes it’s clear that it couldn’t have been told by any other Director. For those of you who missed MOON (which features Sam Rockwell, who, in my opinion, gives one of the finest performances in silver screen history), you really should invest the time… Like, today. Right now. I’ll wait. [I’m going to assume a lengthy pause here.] Back? Good. Now, what Jones accomplishes in MOON (which you’ve now seen), as well as in this film, is that he presents a fictional world that could so easily be our own. It’s not that things aren’t a bit different, they are… but they are presented with such realism and finesse that you start to feel like maybe this is something that could actually be happening right now.
This is what is so incredible about SOURCE CODE. Unlike the highly stylized world designed by Terry Gilliam with the seminal (and similar) 12 MONKEYS, Jones works within present-day reality to push for moments that resonate with the audience. The movie avoids clichés and keeps the tension building. Additionally, and quite surprisingly to me, the movie takes Gyllenhaal and really makes him into a star. This is the first time I’ve thought of him in this way. He’s done a good job in the past, but I haven’t ever wanted to put him up against the likes of Sam Rockwell or even Tobey Maguire. But here, working with Jones, it feels like Gyllenhaal has ripped the mantle away from other actors of his generation.
And this ability of Jones to bring out the best in his actors doesn’t stop with Mr. G. Farmiga and Monaghan both present strong (though different) female characters, something lacking in most sci-fi (and many Hollywood) films. And then there’s Jeffrey Wright (CASINO ROYALE, W). Wright has shown chops as a character actor before, but here he really shines. He plays a character who could easily be a cliché but makes him identifiable and even patriotic.
In short, I really enjoyed this film and would highly recommend it.
Video: (1080p, 1.78:1 Widescreen) The video looks great, from the digitized ventures into the source code to the special effects – you feel like you are on the train with Gyllenhaal.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Surround) The sound is immersive and full with a nice mix and levels that don’t require constant re-configuring of your system.
Audio Commentary with Director Duncan Jones, Actor Jake Gyllenhaal, Writer Ben Ripley (01:33:12): They did this one right, with each person providing a different point of view to the work done to make this film. Jones and Gyllenhaal provide some laughs (they taped this on April Fools’ Day) as they talk about some of the finer points of technical film production. It’s clear that they all had a good time making the film and they share some great experiences making this film.
Access: Source Code (01:33:12) This is the first Blu-ray I’ve seen that puts together the special features in this way. It’s picture in picture with multiple frames playing over the film so that you can see relevant facts or featurettes at different points of the film. You can choose to watch one or as many of them as you want during the film.
- Did you know? – bits of trivial knowledge “pop-up video” style. Tiny words on the screen require a larger television.
- Tales of Time Travel – Similar to the “Did you know?” segments, these are text only. You’ll need a large television to be able to read them.
- Focal Points – animated vignettes are presented a few times during the movie, presented like instructional/school videos about quantum physics. Really well done.
- Cast and Crew Insights – Little 2-5 minute snippets where the cast and crew are interviewed about the script, the movie, the process.
- Expert Intel – audio segments recorded with a Russian physicist who works on theories like the ones presented in the film.
This set is definitely worth checking out. I hope that this becomes (or is already becoming) an industry standard.