DVD review: Source Code [M15+]

Dir: Duncan Jones
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright

The Film
Marcey’s Take: Source Code is the second feature length directorial effort from Duncan Jones, the man who gave us 2009′s Moon and my personal pick for the best film of that year. The film doesn’t stray to far from what we’ve seen from Jones, this is a sci-fi film with some pretty fantastic ideas and concepts. Unlike Moon though, this film has quite a few characters and more than one location. Still those elements are very minimal and despite that, the film works on many levels. I’ll keep the plot details as simple as possible; I do believe this film is best experienced that way. A man wakes up on a train as a different person, he has 8 minutes to find out all the information he can about a bomb that will blow the train up. I do feel that is the most I can and should reveal, while yes there is more to it than that it is better to see it for yourself.

I must say this, it is refreshing to see something that feels original. This is not a remake nor a sequel or prequel to anything, yes it definitely has ideas and nods to other films but it is something I hadn’t really seen done this way before. The film deals with some very real issues like terrorism, but it explores this interesting way of how it can be dealt with and stopped if our technology were different and more advanced. There are also certain morality issues that get presented and those did stir up some feelings in me as they were probably intended to do. I really liked the script, written by Ben Ripley (previous credits include Species sequels), it was sharp, to the point and it had some compelling characters. The cinematography was really quite impressive, some shots were just so amazing to look at. On the technical side, the film was really on top and it came together really well.

I was most impressed by Jake Gyllenhaal as Colter Stevens, it seemed as though he’d been in a slew of films that I didn’t have any interest in seeing. I like him as an actor, I have ever since Donnie Darko and I’ve really wanted to see him tackle something different and serious. Source Code really was that for him, he is front and center (his character reminded me a lot of James Cole from 12 Monkeys) for most of this film and he managed to keep things interesting and give the audience someone to get behind. Supporting him were the likes of Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright who all did quite well. Monaghan made for a very lovely sight, as well as forming a very likable character. Farmiga usually delivers and I really liked her in the role of Goodwin. It was a strange role, yet it seemed to fit her and she definitely added a lot to the character. Wright was perfectly strange and quirky and very mysterious as well, I did find a few scenes with him a little on a more cheesy side but over all he did a good job.

Duncan Jones has proven that Moon was not a fluke; he is a smart and competent director. With so little, he can do so much. I do believe this was a great second feature for him. Sci-fi is a genre that he understands, as well as making a thrilling yet subtle film. Whatever he does next I will be there to see, he is someone we should all be keeping our eye on. This was a very strong film, with some great ideas and one that certainly needs its audience to think.

Marcey’s Rating

Gareth’s Take: Since I have a pretty different reading on this one, here’s my review…

Source Code is a movie that gives you food for thought about five minutes before closing the kitchen. The premise is without a doubt immensely interesting and gives plenty for movie buffs to chew on, but one leaves the cinema feeling like the movie cut the ideas short. The different ways the ‘Source Code’ technology impacts on the world, alternate dimensions and philosophical nature of the scenario gets given a mention but never completely follows through.

The addition of an over-extended emotional final act creates the sense that the film-makers have run out of ideas. We’re left with the focus on the boundless love Colter feels for a woman who he’s known for eight minutes (and who thinks he’s someone else) and a conflict with his father which we’re not privy to, ergo emotionally unattached. Jones seems to be posing questions to which he doesn’t completely understand the answer.

A few other niggling issues, such as a laughable performance from Jeffery Wright (I don’t even know what he was going for, but I think he missed) annoy but don’t distract from the other, stronger performances and the over-all concept.

It may read that I’m getting down on the film, but I did enjoy it for the first 80 odd minutes, but the ending left it unsatisfying. It was the cinematic equivalent of sex without an orgasm.

Gareth’s Rating

The Australian DVD 
The release will be presented in widescreen 16:9, with Dolby Digital 5.1.

Extras:

  • Cast Insights (30 mins)
  • Focal Points (6 mins)
  • Feature Commentary (dir Duncan Jones, actor Jake Gyllenhaal and writer Ben Ripley)
  • Trivia Track

Cast Insights – This feature is presented with chapters, which you can either watch together or separately. It offers some great info from the cast and director about the film and each other, and the motivations behind certain scenes, how they were done. Definitely a must see, it adds to the film and it will make you re-think your thoughts about Source Code.

Focal Points – This short animated feature gives us info on: Memory Recall, Military Virtual Reality Simulators, Quantum Physics, Many Worlds Theory and Brain Computer Interface. Not a must see but interesting and worth checking out.

Feature Commentary – The commentary works as a great companion piece to the film, with words from Duncan Jones and Jake Gyllenhaal being the more engaging. Ben Ripley offers us where the idea came from, and how he developed the film. Jones talks about the making of, and explains certain scenes and other tid bits. Gyllenhaal is always interesting to listen to, it is a well rounded commentary. Something I’d recommend for those who enjoy a good commentary such as myself.

Trivia Track – You can chose to play this while watching the film, it spits out random bits of trivia related to different aspects of the film.

DVD Rating

You can get more details on DVD and purchase it through Hopscotch here.

Thanks to Simone at Hopscotch for the copy.

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