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Source Code – An Intelligent Mind Bender or Just A Messy Attempt?

I just watched the movie Source Code – are the comparisons with Inception justified?

It does feel a lot like ‘Inception meets Groundhog Day‘. But, is it as much fun as either of them?

Well, I wont answer that question but at least Inception does make a decent attempt at explaining its premises and hence manages to stand pretty firm on its own ground in spite of a few glaring holes (like why didn’t De Caprio just shoot his wife and himself if he was sure he as in a dream? Why did he have to do inception on her and set in motion the whole hullaballoo? Well, let us discuss that another day)

And, Source Code?

My main problem with Source Code is that for a movie that is trying to be intelligent (at least for the first half), it does not do a good enough job of explaining its basic premise.

<<< Spoilers Ahead >>>

In a nutshell, this is the movie – A ‘great’ quantum physicist has developed a brand new software. Apparently, whenever a person dies, the last 8 minutes of his brain is stored in his brain. This software taps this memory and is able to feed it into the brain of a dead operative who can then plug into that memory and live out those 8 minutes. 

They want to use this to fight terror. So far so good? The problem is that the operative can now not only access the memory of the dead guy, but can also go in and generate new information that was never part of his memory.

How is that possible? For a more detailed analysis on why this explanation just doesn’t cut it, head over to my friend’s blog as he overthinks it:

By this explanation, it’s the ultimate extension of those b.s. “enhance… enhance…” scenes in movies and CSIsh television shows, where computers let you get information from an old photograph that it can’t possibly have captured because of silly things like resolution. It doesn’t make sense that source code operatives can interrogate people in the memory of the deceased. If the dead person didn’t perceive something, it wouldn’t be in his memory. It’s like this great scene from the legendary British sci-fi show Red Dwarf:

Before you go forward, I must tell you that if you skipped the video above, you really have missed a laugh.

What I just described above is one of the major pet peeves about the movie in many blogs. 

I admit that the movie never addressed it or made an attempt to explain it. but let me just make it clear that there is an explanation we could come with after watching the movie – First of all, even though the scientist mentions Source Code is based on Quantum Physics, there is no mention of the same in the explanation he gives about SC in the movie. So where exactly does Quantum Physics come into the picture? My take is that what is happening is that Source Code is a programme which used the information (8 minutes of memory) and uses that to create a virtual reality in the mind of the operative. Now since quantum physics is weird and is supposed to be dependant on consciousness according to some theories, this instead of creating a virtual reality, creates an actual parallel universe. Even though this explanation sounds ok to me, it still doesn’t explain how he was able to come back and report on it in the current reality.

Besides, why did it have to spin into a romantic drama in the end? And “it’s all gonna be alright”? Come On! How is that even related?

On thinking about it, he starts saying that line only in the second half of the movie. I honestly think that the first half and second half must have been written by different people. It starts well and had me hooked in the first 15 minutes. I eagerly listened to the explanation of what Source Code is and I tried to suspend disbelief and go with it as the movie violated its own explanations. I enjoyed the irony in ‘Beleaguered castle‘ and I tried to come up with my own explanations to excuse the movie (see above) and I kept watching. I tried… I really tried! But when he started repeating “it is gonna be alright”, I had to give up on the movie.

So the movie becomes a complete failure when I look at it with a harsh sci-fi fan’s eyes. It is not a good sci-fi movie if it can’t explain itself or doesn’t even make a decent attempt. Period.

If anyone has better insights on how to explain the weirdo stuff happening in the movie, please use the comments section to your heart’s content.

PS. For those of you who enjoyed the concepts in Source Code and wants more of the same, I would strongly recommend Quantum Leap (will be available in DC on request).

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2011 in Movie Discussions, Movie Reviews, Movies

 

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