Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Video review: "Source Code"

"Source Code" has one of those plots that you shouldn't spend too much time thinking about. It's a high-tech house of cards, with a science fiction backdrop that hasn't quite crossed all it's t's or dotted its i's.

There's time travel, sorta, and "Matrix"-like control of the human mind by nefarious forces. At the center, though, is a touching human story about a man trying to make sense of extraordinary circumstances.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Colter Stevens, a helicopter pilot deployed in Afghanistan. He wakes aboard a speeding train, with a smiling woman (Michelle Monaghan) sitting across from him and talking to him like she knows him. He soon discovers that his consciousness has been projected into that of a man who's already dead -- because terrorists have blown up this train, killing everyone aboard.

Colter must repeat this scenario over and over until he discovers the identity of the bomber. In between his "missions," he finds himself in a strange metal pod, where a female commander (Vera Farmiga) whispers urgent instructions.

Even though the metaphysics of the story don't stand up to scrutiny, director Duncan Jones and screenwriter Ben Ripley still manage to engage us with a sympathetic protagonist and the mystery of his plight.

Information on video extras was still a little sketchy at press time. According to preliminary reports, it will include a feature-length commentary by Jones and Gyllenhaal, interviews, trivia and experts talking about the science of time travel. I didn't get a review copy in time, so I can't say if these features are on both the DVD and Blu-ray versions, or just one.

Movie: 3 stars (out of four)
Extras: I (Incomplete)

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