Source Code

 

Source Code

Written by Ben Ripley

Directed by Duncan Jones

2011


Cast:

Jake Gyllenhaal

Michelle Monghan

Vera Farmiga

Jeffrey Wright


Production Studio:

Theatrical: Mark Gordon Company

Video: Summit Entertainment


Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Codec: AVC

Disc Size: Dual layer

Feature Size: 23 GB

Bit Rate: Moderate (20-30 Mbps)

Runtime: 93 minutes

Chapters: 17

Region Code: A


Audio:

English DTS-HD MA 5.1

Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (dub)

English Dolby Digital 2.0 (commentary)


Subtitles:

English SDH & Spanish


Extras:

• Audio Commentary with Director Duncan Jones, Writer Ben Ripley and Actor Jake Gyllenhaal

• Access: Source Code

• Trailer


Presentation:

Blu-ray Case: BRD x 1

Street Date: June 26, 2011



The Movie: 8

A commuter train is bound for Chicago.  On the train a man seems to emerge from a daze.  Clearly he is puzzled and disturbed by his surroundings: How did he get there when his last memory was flying a mission in Afghanistan?  Why does the young woman sitting across from him know him while he doesn’t recognize her?  He goes to the bathroom and sees the reflection of a face not his.  Moments later the train explodes.  He regains consciousness in what appears to be a flying capsule.  WTF!


Part Star Trek Menagerie, part Groundhog Day, and yet hardly very much like either, Source Code is an experiment devised by Dr. Rutledge (an anxious Jeffrey Wright) that permits an eight-minute window into the time just before one’s death.  The purpose of Rutledge’s device is to head off a follow-up terrorist strike before it happens, by reliving the first strike in a virtual reality.  To do this he “matches” one of the victims to his time traveling agent who, in turn, investigates the circumstances of the attack in hopes of tracking down the perpetrator.


     


Comment:

In this gripping, yet deeply felt action thriller, Jake Gyllenhaal is outstanding as Captain Colter Stevens, a man trapped in a time loop not of his making.  Even when the stakes are presented as “saving millions” he resists re-entering the rat wheel.  Humans just don’t take kindly to imprisonment.  His handler is Captain Colleen Goodwin, played with finely judged sympathy by Vera Vermiga.  The woman in the opposite seat on the train is Michelle Monaghan, the perfect girl next door.


“Source Code” is just the ticket for someone who enjoys a sci-fi thriller filled to breaking point with human longings, but isn’t so up on physics and math to be distracted by the application of its theory.  This pretty much describes me.  I’m smart about some things but not science.  (I’m still not entirely certain why someone standing on the south pole doesn’t fall off the planet.)  On the other hand I like to think I’m fairly alert when it comes to plot and script elegancies and inconsistencies.   And there’s the rub.  I know just enough to ask questions about this plot, but I don’t know enough to know if my  concerns can be rationalized with the science fiction universe in question.


     


In Source Code, we the audience are less concerned with the identity of the terrorist than the travails of the protagonist.  In the space between the lines we might ask such questions as: If the source code operators, who exist in “real time,” are concerned about an imminent terrorist strike, how can they insist that their time traveling agent return to the mission until he finds the terrorist - again and again if needs be (which could take hours), AND that there is a time constraint. Perhaps more important, how did Dr. Rutledge type Captain Stevens to one of the train’s victims in such time that he was able to contrive a mission to intercept the perpetrator - or try to. There is no ticking clock, so we the audience don’t know how much time the agent has or, rather, how much time Chicago has.  Does Stevens have an infinite mount of time because the mission occurs in virtual time OR is this like Spock’s retort when Kirk goes missing and could be anywhere in the galaxy, that  we had better waste no time in the search.


     


Ben Ripley’s agile, searching screenplay cleverly focuses on Colter’s confusion, his frustration and his desire to save the girl by turns - while all the while trying to defuse the bomb and find the culprit.  I say “cleverly” because Colter’s emotional distress distracts us from asking questions that might unmask source code’s science.  For example, evidently Colter and Christina boarded the train at the same point, yet only he is repeatedly asked for his ticket. HIs handler repeatedly admonishes him not to pay attention to the girl but to get on with his mission - but who’s to say she might not be a a suicide bomber, as it were  Or, for that matter, why not himself - Colter’s borrowed identity, that is.  We are so used to misdirection that we naturally include both in the list of viable suspects.  And why not?


I wasn’t able to sort out how the science and the plot worked together on my first try, yet I found the film immensely riveting and suspenseful.  Nonetheless I was beset with questions, as you can see. I take it that the screenplay’s ambiguity is deliberate so as to allow for the fluidity of the ending.  In any case, I am guessing a second viewing - a source code of my own invention - will permit an entirely different entry into the film.


     


Image: 9/9

Summit presents Source Code on a gorgeous, highly detailed Blu-ray image, cropped horizontally a bit from its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1.  Its slightly desaturated color, filtered with a cool hint of blue, create just the right level of detachment and precision.  The source elements are pristine, as expected for a new movie.  The contrast is nicely judged even as deep blacks threaten to gobble up shadow detail.  Explosions burst in bright oranges, reds and yellows, and faces are true, depending on the light.  I found no distracting transfer artifacts of concern.


Audio & Music: 8/8

Source Code has it all: a well-judged sense of ambience: claustrophobic in the capsule, less so but urgent in the train’s rest room; opened up at the few moments we are able to get off the train; and familiar miked voice transmissions.  These, coupled with some powerful explosions and searing metal crunches every time the train falls victim to the bomber.  From the opening frames, Chris Bacon’s pulsating score drives the movie right to edge of our seats.


     


Extras: 5

Summit means well, but the execution is a bit dicey.   First there is the now familiar audio commentary featuring the director, Duncan Jones, writer Ben Ripley and star Jake Gyllenhaal.  Since they comment on just about every angle of the script and production, there are a number of spoilers, so don’t attempt to listen until you’ve seen the entire film.  So far, so good. 


The other feature is called “Access: Source Code” in which you can watch the movie from the beginning with your choice of several areas of interest (behind-the-scenes information, cast interviews, trivia and commentary by science experts on time travel) that appear as pop-ups with a timer in the corner of the frame counting down to the next pop.  A good idea, but all the pop-up windows except for the cast interviews are too small, with fonts I don’t see how anyone could read without a 120 inch screen or a telescope.  Furthermore, we can’t move seamlessly from the feature film to Access:Source Code, nor was I able to advance the chapters in the latter, though fast forward and reverse worked fine.  Now that I think of it, the subtitles are the smallest font I’ve ever seen on a Blu-ray.


     


These PIP bonus features are nearly always trouble, and every studio feels the need to reinvent the wheel, putting their personal stamp on the impossible: the PIP windows are either so large as to interfere with the film or so small that you can’t really make out what they are say.  Summit’s solution works out to the worst of both worlds.

Recommendation: 8

Access: Source Code aside, Summit has a real winner here.  The movie is a thrill a minute and tells a human story in the bargain.  The PQ and audio are of demonstration quality.  Highly recommended.


     


Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

July 8, 2011



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