How disappointing is it when a movie highlights its own plotpoints? How contraproductive when it shows how dumb a supposedly genius character is?
I've watched The Source Code and I'm sad to say I predicted my disappointment right from the trailers.
Now, I quite liked the idea of having 8 minutes to find something out in someone else's body. But bits here and there suggested the parallel worlds idea won't be convincing. And it isn't.
My main problem with the film lies in the character of the crutch-using scientist.
He constructed a device that supposedly allows a brain damaged person access to another dead person's brain and its 8 minutes of short term memory. Words like "quantum physics" were thrown around a lot, but what on earth does it have to do with that? What does this device actually do? There are two possibilities presented and I believe both of them are ridiculous:
a) It allows access to the memory of the deceased person. If so, the dreamer should not be able to do anything else than what the dead person did - from what we know of brains, any other action would be in fact dreaming - interpolation between bits of information stored in the memory.
A person familiar with door handles would know he can pull a door handle, but if the dead person didn't know what was behind a door, the dreamer wouldn't know it either.
Depending on the interpretation of this "science", the dreamer could see absolutely nothing, he could be prevented from opening the door, or he would make up something that would make sense to be in behind the door. But it wouldn't reflect the exact reality - the dead person's brain doesn't have the knowledge.
Now the movie itself acknowledges that this is not in fact what is happening. I ask - how dumb is the scientist who built this device then? His credibility as a character drops to zero the moment he implies it might have something to do with alternative universes, but still insists that it's simply a memory we can access. These two are exclusive.
Even if we accept this technology exists, it doesn't make a lick of sense.
b) It allows access to a parallel universe some time ago, it's real. If so, HOW?! I'm sorry, but saying "it's very complicated" doesn't cut it. I don't require techno babble and explanations for everything in movies, I'm perfectly fine with Inception's "yeah, we have this technology, it works".
But if you're going through the trouble of explaining the stuff with the brains, why not follow through with this too? The technology is constantly described as a brain link, a simulation - hence the idiotic name "Source Code" (which is dumb, because a source code is something you need to compile for the program to run, it's just a lame name picked to sound IT-ish)
The parallel universe aspect is completely missing and it's an incredibly stupid idea - if we establish the fact there are parallel universes, the universe where Jake Gylenhall saves the train ALREADY EXISTS SOMEWHERE!!! Him "going back" and "saving the girl" does exactly nothing. I'm no physicist, but if anything, he simply jumped from one universe in which he doesn't save the girl to another, where he does. Nothing is accomplished - congratulations! (except for him "getting that kiss" (oh Holywood) and LIVING ON, which also happens in an infinite number of universes beside the one we see in the movie) And he gets to stay in this poor guy's body after Jake dies? Wow, because we couldn't let the film end on a bit of a downer, right? How is Jake going to teach history anyway?
"Do you believe in fate?" Yeah. Screw science. It was fate.
I suppose we are to be astonished by the fact the army lady reads Jake's message, that it all happened. But if we're still going with the parallel universes hypothesis, ALL OF THAT ALREADY HAPPENED IN A PARALLEL UNIVERSE!
The army lady is not the same one we've been seeing through the movie, it doesn't matter that she thinks the device works - she still cannot change anything in her own universe. And all the changes she might want to make in the other universes have always been done in an infinite number of these universes. That's the bloody point of the multiverse theory.
The ending scene changed nothing and is, as the whole film, pointless.
It's a mediocre film and I'm sure everyone with a basic knowledge of physics, brain biology and logic will see the gaping holes in its plot and characters. It doesn't deserve to be praised.
The actors weren't bad though.