DVD of the Week – Review of Source Code (2011)


Jake Gyllenhaal plays Captain Colter Stevens, a US military helicopter pilot who wakes up one day seated in a train that’s headed to Chicago. Before him sits Christina (Michelle Monaghan), an attractive woman who calls him Sean. As Colter attempts to figure out why his reflection shows a different face and body than his own, the train explodes and he wakes up still strapped to the chair in his helicopter cockpit.

Officer Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) speaks to Colter through an LCD monitor and informs him that earlier in the day, the train that he was on had exploded due to a terrorist plot and that it was just a warning regarding an even larger bomb that would go off somewhere in downtown Chicago. Colter is told that he was placed inside the consciousness of one Sean Fentress, a traveler aboard the train that exploded earlier and that he’ll be placed again and again inside Sean until he can figure out who the bomber is and where the bomb is.

I know that this sounds like a sci-fi version of Groundhog Day but it’s a concept that works here just as well as it did in Groundhog Day. Director Duncan Jones, who broke into the film scene with one of 2009’s best films, Moon, reworks the sci-fi genre by involving a possible virtual reality, possible multiple alternate realities, and the powerful idea of having a sound reality and what others’ allowance to tinker with it may be. Moon worked with the concept of being human, a la Blade Runner (1982) but Source Code works with the concepts of repeating a reality in order to master it and also… let’s just say that the next part’s a huge spoiler.

The film takes place mostly within the commuter train and the detective work found in here is fascinating because Colter isn’t a seasoned detective but simply a military pilot. However, when he uncovers more and more information regarding the bomb and its maker, knowing that this is a Duncan Jones film I couldn’t wait for Colter to reawaken just so that I could find out more info regarding what the Source Code really is. And the best part of the film is that its story stretches all the way through to the end credits.

Source Code is not a confusing film but a remarkably complex one, far more complex than Moon; it’s complex more on the lines of Inception. And after viewing the film I had to perform a bit to research in order to truly comprehend that what I believed to be the main concept was correct. This is a thinking person’s film (big time!); a well shot, well performed, and well directed film; and a terrific new take on typical sci-fi conventions that contains a remarkably deep and satisfying conclusion.

This is one of the best films that I’ve had the pleasure of watching this year and it’s a very big recommendation.

The DVD and Blu-ray contain a commentary by director Duncan Jones, actor Jake Gyllenhaal, and writer Ben Ripley but the Blu-ray also contains Science Focal Points, Access: Source Code Interactive Viewing Mode, Cast Interviews, and a Trivia Track.

Original Commentary Track review of Source Code by Helen Geib.

Other new releases this week: Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, Life During Wartime


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