Source Code DVD/Blu-ray Review

The Source Code is a newly invented project for ‘time reassignment’, allowing an individual to relive the last eight minutes of another’s life. Here it’s being used by the military for the morally justifiable reason of the greater good. Mentally torturing one man, Captain Colter Stevens, (Jake Gyllenhaal) to save thousands from a confirmed second terrorist attack (coz like movies mirror contemporary events right!) in down town Chicago. Placing Colter on an eight minutes from detonation train he has time enough to ascertain the bombers identity, but precious little time for anything else, or does he?

Jake Gyllenhaal is fast becoming, one can hope, Hollywood’s go to guy. Since the likes of Donnie Darko he has developed a charming and charismatic on screen presence that always slightly sets him apart from the Sam Worthington and Channing Tatum breed of movie star. He’s somewhat of a screen hero for the un-heroic generation. Slightly dishevelled and more witty than brawly, cunning than brute, you can be forgiven for seeing hints of Ford in his prime.

An early, and annoyingly reductive, verdict for Source Code was sadly the line “Inception meets Groundhog Day” as well as the quote “Better than Inception” banded about like an annoyingly useless piece of provocative PR. Better than Inception this is not; as if? But the comparison is unfair and reviewers should shy away from using it as a yardstick just yet, for fear of stifling creativity.

The director’s last outing in Moon was an atmospheric and self reflective look at identity, awareness and isolation deftly handling plot turns that could have been so gimmicky, you suspect, had it not been Duncan Jones behind the camera. Jones brings the same touch of care and detail to this world; filling the movie with identifiers that make everything very relatable. There’s no surreal in this movie which helps to deliver its level of engagement.

An engagement that is delivered in spades by the central protagonists; indeed it’s difficult to find yourself not caring for their fates. Gyllenhaal and pretty girl ‘distraction’ Christina (Michelle Monaghan) give rather understated performances. Shying away from the all American need to raise yourself to meet the situation presented; instead their performances echo what you might consider to be your own reaction to this turn of events.

Gyllenhaal is not the self-sacrificing hero; rather he’s intent on being selfish enough to let everyone die a few more times to satisfy his own inquisitive needs. Monaghan relaxed and jokey about her companion’s weird change of mentality fits the tone perfectly, because really who does freak out if their friend starts acting a bit weird. No one expects the person sitting next to them to go all secret agent and then the train to explode do they. Well with the level of animation some movie characters jump to at the slightest hint of a change from the status quo you’d be forgiven for thinking that.

Both characters give in to preconceptions and motivations that feel demonstrably real. The scripting, from Ben Ripley, and directing are of course the root of this success but that the actors give the mundane and personal actions a heroic and engaging feel is testament to their burgeoning talent.

Layered over these wonderfully real performances the true beauty of the movie is its pacing. Whereas Groundhog Day had a tendency to become laborious in parts due to its obvious repetitive nature Jones seems to be more aware of the issue and keeps the film lively and moving, never causing us to feel as bored as our protagonist is lost.

And lost he is. In the girls eyes that he wakes up across from and in a battle to alter their seemingly irreversible fate every time the moebius strip re-launches itself. Most of all though, like Moon, in a battle to find out who he is, where he is and what the hell it all means! A realisation that comes in a heartbreaking twist that was always naggingly suspected but that audiences will never want to alight on. The empathetic nature of the characters has us rooting for them to the last minutes, with those last minutes coming often enough.

In true Jones style the central plot of the film has only secondary importance, with instead a main focus on the characters themselves. Great, we’re finally getting closer to the bomber, but who cares really? What’s going to happen to those on screen? Their fate will cause controversy and not all will like the ending but perhaps like us the film-makers weren’t ready to let go of the characters they had created just yet.

Verdict

Source Code is an intelligent and existentialist thriller that will keep you going round and around, especially if you give it some thinking time afterwards. So affectingly good that you’ll want to watch everyone die again a few more times, even if that is a bit sadistic.

DVD/Blu-ray Extras:

  • ‘Double Play Edition’ includes the movie on 2 formats: Blu-ray & DVD!
  • Audio Commentary With Jake Gyllenhaal, Director Duncan Jones And Writer Ben Ripley
  • Cast And Crew Insights
  • Focal Points
  • Expert Intel – The Science Behind Source Code
  • Access Source Code: Trivia Track

Source Code is released on DVD and Blu-ray on 15th August

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One Response

  1. Dan O.

    A well-paced and structured sci-fi thriller that’s as complex as it is clear-headed. Also, Gyllenhaal shows again why exactly he really is one of the better leading men out there, and proves he still has that charm. Still, this wasn’t anything amazingly special as everybody in the world made it seem. Good Review!

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