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Time bending “Source Code” gets a boost in 4K


Another explosion on the Chicago commuter train with Michelle Monaghan as Christina and Jake Gyllenhaal as U.S. Army helicopter pilot Capt. Colter Stevens. (4K frame shots courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment)


4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, Digital copy, 2011, PG-13 for some violence including disturbing images, and for language; streaming via Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

Best extra: Commentary with director Duncan Jones, writer Ben Ripley and actor Jake Gyllenhaal (4K)

ANOTHER MONTH, another 4K disc from Lionsgate Home Entertainment – part of what seems, from the outside, a random selection of catalog movies getting the 4K upgrade. Last month it was two minor sci-fi thrillers: “Knowing” and “Push.”

NOW it’s the highly-praised "Source Code" (88 percent from top critics on Rotten Tomatoes), with shades of a “Twilight Zone” episode and a Hitchcock suspense feature, from British director Duncan Jones (“Moon”) and writer Ben Ripley. The story surrounds U.S. Army helicopter pilot Capt. Colter Stevens, who is mysteriously transported onto a Chicago commuter train, with no memory of how he got there.

Jake Gyllenhaal gives a virtuoso performance as the disoriented Stevens. His last recollection is a mission over Afghanistan, but a woman named Christina, played by Michelle Monaghan, is traveling with him and keeps calling him “Sean.” Stevens runs to the bathroom, where he discovers another man staring back at him in the mirror. He soon learns he’s inside the body of Sean Fentress, a Chicago schoolteacher.

U.S. Army helicopter pilot Capt. Colter Stevens awakes inside the body of Sean Fentress, a Chicago schoolteacher.
Disoriented Stevens is not sure where he is.

Eight minutes into his commute the train explodes. Stevens awakens inside what looks like a space capsule and is told by Air Force Capt. Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) that he’s on Project Source Code mission, where he has been “Quantum Leapt” into Fentress’s body. The mission, which includes an additional twist involving a dirty bomb that could wipe out millions, continues until our hero finds the bomb and the bomber. Stevens only gets eight minutes for each trip before the bomb goes off, and he returns, over, and over, and over again.

Another round of the source code

The commuter train explodes and derails near downtown Chicago.

“‘You can’t exist inside the source code beyond Fentress’s eight minutes. The source code is not time travel. Rather, source code is time reassignment. It gives us access to a parallel reality.’ — Dr. Rutledge” (Jeffrey Wright)


“Source Code” was captured on 35mm film (1.78:1 aspect ratio) for the train sequences and the Red digital camera inside the capsule by cinematographer Don Burgess (“Forrest Gump,” “Cast Away”). Sadly, it was mastered in 2K, and resolution difference between the upconverted 4K and previous Blu-ray is an only slight uptick. Still, the film grain is more pronounced and the HDR/Dolby Vision toning includes richer colors, deeper blacks, controlled highlights and facial colors are more natural – without red splotching that plagued the Blu-ray.

Stevens awakens inside what looks like a space capsule and is told by Air Force Capt. Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) that he’s on Project Source Code mission.
Capt. Stevens returns to the commuter train and finds the bomb.
Air Force Capt. Colleen Goodwin and Dr. Rutledge


The 4K features the expansive Dolby Atmos track, which highlights aggressive sound effect tracks to your height speakers, and a deep subwoofer blast during the numerous explosions. The dialogue and the score from Chris Bacon (“Gnomeo & Juliet”) never get lost during the aggressive sections.


The commentary with the three guys is a good one; there are a number of good backstories, including how Ripley’s original script was set in New York City, with strangers on the train and each source code session lasts seventeen minutes. The 4K also features five brief factoids from the production. For example, actor Scott Bakula, who played Dr. Sam Beckett on the TV series “Quantum Leap,” is the voice of Capt. Stevens’ father; a majority of the movie was filmed in Montreal; and the ringer on Christina’s phone features “The One and Only,” from British teen heartthrob Chesney Hawkes, which Jones also used in “Moon,” for Sam Rockwell’s alarm clock.

Capt. Stevens confronts the bomber

The enclosed Blu-ray includes an interactive pop-up with cast and crew interviews, time-travel factoids from other Hollywood movies, and expert insights from Prof. Sergei Gukov, Theoretical Physics and Mathematics at California Institute of Technology.

“Source Code” may not have the cinematic look of “Gladiator” or “Saving Private Ryan,” but it’s still a well-thought-of upgrade to 4K.

- Bill Kelley III, High-Def Watch producer

4K Ultra HD movie Trailer



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