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Source Code (4K UHD Blu-ray)

Duncan Jones launched onto the directorial scene with the heavily praised science fiction film, Moon. One that you really could call a modern cult classic. Moon was exciting a debut as one could have, landing on everyone’s radar, excited to see where Jones would end up next. Currently, Jones has contributed the Warcraft movie that has its fans but was a rather notable failure in the US and the Netflix film Mute that didn’t receive much positive response. Coming off Moon, he did Source Code, a thriller featuring the Groundhog’s Day-like storytelling device about having a short window over and over again to stop a bomb on a train. It received rave reviews and was a solid box office hit. So Jones is on the bad side of batting 50/50 (Even John Boorman had Zardoz and Exorcist II back to back). On the good side, Source Code is coming to 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray on May 8th!

Film 

Helicopter pilot Colter Stevens is part of a top-secret military operation that enables him to experience the last few minutes in the life of Sean Fentress, a man who died in a commuter-train explosion. The purpose of Colter’s mission is to learn the identity of the bomber and prevent a similar catastrophe. As Colter lives Sean’s final moments, he becomes more certain that he can prevent the first tragedy from occurring — as long as he doesn’t run out of time.

Source Code plays with the ye ole Groundhog Day formula. A repetitious run through of the same short sequence of events with a different angle or knowledge each time. Following Source Code, we’d see films like Edge of Tomorrow and Happy Death Day  (Among the more popular ones) give it a go on the format as well. And when you watch, its almost its own genre as there is a checklist of tropes that occur every time one of these films is written.

Source Code’s approach almost feels like its lifting from the construct of Quantum Leap (And the film even features a vocal cameo from Quantum Leap’s star, Scott Bakula).  Jake Gyllenhaal’s Colter Stevens is sent back to a train that was bombed in order to make right what once went wrong by putting his conscience into that of one of the passengers in the past. All the while, the “present” in the film (Via Colter’s mind) very much feels inspired from another time travel epic (And one of my personal top 10 films of all time) Twelve Monkeys. Its a very steampunk place and he’s being ordered by voices and a screen that are organized and professional in comparison.

Duncan Jones’ film is a really tight and precise thriller that features enough character development in the right places for it to be a more engaging mystery than its surface level objective. At a rather concise 90 minute, the film really moves, but never feels like its flying by too fast and forgetting its characters and having some moments to relax and enjoy itself. It also features some solid humor as well as the fact that its not afraid to leave its central environment (The train) many times to pursue a lead.

Here’s another in a line of terrific performances and very good smaller films for Jake Gyllenhaal. He tends to steer away from franchises and sequels and instead work with interesting directors and go from interesting character to interesting character. Gyllenhaal is sorta carving a path not unlike Leonardo DiCaprio, just without the huge box office and popularity (Though he does share the acclaim). Michelle Monaghan does very well with what could be a nothing part. She helps the film to charm and add some peppiness to the movie. Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright are solid, though Wright isn’t given a whole lot and Farmiga enhances what could have been a more stale part in the script.

Source Code isn’t Moon, but its a rock solid follow up to it for Duncan Jones. Its shocking to me, to realize how long ago this film was released. I’d only seen it the one time back then before this review and it honestly didn’t feel like that much time had passed and a lot of the film had stuck with me. I’ll have to say that’s a sure sign that I must’ve really enjoyed it back then. And, I had a pretty good time again here. I’m also a sucker for the confines of the device used to tell the plot of the film, too, so that helps.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265 (with Dolby Vision)

Resolution: 4K (2160p) Dolby Vision, HDR10

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Source Code debuts on 4K Ultra-HD with a terrific sharp and detailed picture. This one is on the higher end of Lionsgate’s catalog titles brought to 4K. The film was finished at a 2K DI, so this is an upscale. If you’re looking carefully, some of the exteriro train exploding effects are a hair revealing. Other than that, I think the picture is crisp and has a nice level of grain that helps give it a more genuine feel. The interior of the train and “inside Colter’s mind” sets come off looking the strongest.

Depth: Every environment comes across with free moving characters and objects with a very good representation of the depth of field. Said movements are natural and no distortions like jittering or blurring occur.

Black Levels: Blacks come on very natural and well saturated. There are a lot of very dark sequences in the film and they’re handled quite well with a very impressive attention to detail and said details coming through. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are very bold with greens and blues being very strong. Michelle Monaghan’s shirt looks great as well as the skies. The HDR really pops on lights, computer screens and any sort of laser-like glow. Orange fire from the big train explosions really blasts off the screen too.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and mostly consistent from start to finish of the film. Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright can look a little bit redder at times. The inside his head sequences are a little colder but maintain consistency as well. Facial features like sweat, stubble, moles, make-up, lip textures, dried blood, cuts and more are visible from any reasonable distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD), French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: Lionsgate usually rocks with their Atmos tracks and Source Code falls right in line. This track is loud and eventful. It puts you right in a seat of the train. The mix is well balanced and features terrific detail on the sound effects that are very intricate and impacting.

Height: Overhead features plenty of action and environmental ambiance. The big explosion roars overhead as well as some rickety moving, helicopters and more.

Low Frequency Extension: When things hit they hit pretty hard. The one explosion we get a few times definitely pounds the subwoofer, as does some gun shots, engines and loud pass-bys of the train. Source Code’s score also can boom at times too.

Surround Sound Presentation: As mentioned, the travel here is quite fun to have things pass through and around your room. No speaker is left unturned. Each has a pretty unique job to do and they create a good environment.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extras 

Source Code comes with the Blu-ray edition and a digital copy.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Duncan Jones, Writer Ben Ripley and Actor Jake Gyllenhaal

5 Crazy Details You Might Have Missed (HD, 2:01)

Summary 

Source Code is a fun, engaging, tight little thriller. The movie is a breeze and one I completely forgot just how solid it was. It comes to 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray in a very good 4K upconvert with the usual rocking Lionsgate Dolby Atmos track (They crank it, take notes Disney). Unfortunately the extras aren’t much at all (Though, never underestimate a commentary as almost a lone bonus feature). For a good sale price, this is worth the upgrade if you’re a fan of the film.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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