Source Code is a surprisingly solid sci-fi movie that examines the human condition in a Jake-Gyllenhaal-sized package. It seamlessly builds tension and hope until it collapses into a single frozen moment. It is a logical, poignant ending… And then the movie just keeps going and inadvertently creates the most tragic ending of all-time.
The idea behind the movie is simple.
Gyllenhall is the unfortunately named Colter Stevens, a pilot who awakens on a train in another person’s body. The train blows up. Eventually we learn, Stevens can occupy the last eight minutes of a passenger’s life in the hopes of discovering the identity of the bomber and preventing an imminent attack on Chicago.
Stevens soon learns that he is almost dead himself. He has minimal brain function after a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. Stevens discovers the identity of the bomber. In exchange Stevens will be allowed to die. He spends a final eight minutes in the passengers life, thwarts the bombing, says good-bye to his father and kisses the love interest as time runs out. Everything freezes as Stevens’ body dies.
Except that, suddenly everything continues going, and Stevens happily gets to live out another life in an alternate reality where the train was never bombed.
Now this SEEMS like a happy ending, but there are a few issues that make it the most horrific ending ever.
First we have to examine the “technology” of the film. An official sounding doctor explains that the brain maintains eight minutes of memory even after death and that Stevens is being inserted into those minutes of the passenger’s life through some sort of parabolic quantum echo… yadda yadda yadda.
If we take everything at face value, then we can agree that Stevens got a new life in a new body. Yay!!! Except for one problem. What happened to the person that owned the body in the alternate reality?
The body belonged to teacher Sean Fentress. In the new reality he didn’t die in an explosion. Nope. In this new reality, Fentress was mind murdered by a soldier from another reality who also stole Fentress’ girlfriend. Murder, rape, assault … you can lump in a few more felonies before that train finally stops. But at least the good guy got to live on in a new reality.
But wait a minute. What about that reality? When Stevens enters it, he replaces Fentress’ brain in the new reality. Since every brain apparently contains an alternate reality, Stevens is destroying an entire reality full of life, matter and energy.
So yes, he saved a train full of people, but he did it by murdering the Universe.
Wait a second. If EVERYONE’S brain has an alternate reality, then it also stands to reason that everyone in THAT alternate reality also has a brain that contains an alternate reality. So Stevens actually destroyed an infinite number of Universes, an infinite number of people, just so he could nail a girl he’s known for about a total of 40 minutes.
I might be wrong, but I do believe INFINITE is that highest body count of any movie ever.
And none of that explains how Stevens had Dr. Goodwin’s email address at the end of the movie. You just don’t casually look up the email address of a top secret government scientist on a smart phone in a minute or two on a train.