‘Source Code’ Spoilers and Discussion

Published 4 years ago by , Updated May 22nd, 2011 at 7:53 pm,

Source Code Duncan Jones Source Code Spoilers and Discussion

While our readers are already discussing director Duncan Jones’ sci-fi thriller in the comments section of Source Code review, this is the place where you can discuss spoilers about the movie without worrying about ruining it for people who haven’t seen it yet.

If you’re posting comments here, assume that anyone in the conversation has seen the movie – if you haven’t seen the movie, I would recommend you don’t read these comments here until you have.

Discuss away!

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  1. Several good criticisms of the film so far. I agree that the only way this premise works is if Stevens is actually experiencing a form of time travel and not, as the film’s scientist claims, tapping into the ‘afterglow’ of Sean’s memories. Otherwise, he would only be privy to Sean’s memories, which did not include knowledge of the terrorist. So no new information could be found there.

    How Stevens is able to seemingly permanently inhabit Sean’s body at the end is another flaw with no explanation. It just doesn’t work. The film should needed a different ending.

    Ignoring the brief techno-babble about hyperbolic calculus, the film made virtually no attempt to tie the act of inhabiting another person’s memories or mind with real science, in the past or present, so the speculative portion of the film was pretty far fetched.

    The fact that the terrorist turns out to be a misguided, slightly whacky, but otherwise boring white dude was probably intended as a misdirection. A Muslim terrorist would have been too predictable.

    One more subtle flaw I found was the contrived suspense of having Goodwin wait 8 minutes while Stevens completes his final mission. Anyone familiar with computers would know that what was going on in Stevens’ mind and the computer would never take an actual 8 minutes of real time. This is nothing more than a computer program and would only take a few seconds to process, so the 8 minute wait was created totally for suspense and tension. It works if you aren’t aware of this fact, but sucks if you are.

    Overall, I enjoyed the film for it’s suspense and action, but once the plot details were clear the flaws started to pile up and it was less satisfying. It was clear that the film was influenced by many other films, but I wouldn’t criticize it as being a rip off; films do that all the time. All told, this was kind of like a sci-fi “Groundhog Day” with more serious implications.

    • “One more subtle flaw I found was the contrived suspense of having Goodwin wait 8 minutes while Stevens completes his final mission. Anyone familiar with computers would know that what was going on in Stevens’ mind and the computer would never take an actual 8 minutes of real time. This is nothing more than a computer program and would only take a few seconds to process, so the 8 minute wait was created totally for suspense and tension. It works if you aren’t aware of this fact, but sucks if you are.”

      This actually is important throughout the whole movie, as if every source code run only took a few seconds of real time than there would be absolutely no time pressure on Stevens to find the killer.

      The key is that if it’s not just a computer program, if it’s actually events taking place in an alternative reality, than 8 minutes might very well be 8 minutes.

      Also, Stevens’ mind needs the time to interact with the “program”. I don’t know enough about dreaming and such to know whether this could be done faster than real time or not.

  2. I have to point out to Martin that my understanding of quantum theory is that there are very likely an infinite number of alternate realities, although our understanding of this may not match what one would see on a film like this. This is derived primarily from the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, because elementary particles don’t just exist in one state, but rather all possible states. This has been experimentally verified.

    • “elementary particles don’t just exist in one state, but rather all possible states”

      Yes, think about what that means. Elementary particles exist in all possible states. For each particle, all possible states are already occupied.

      • Well, that’s technically correct, but what it means is that every possible event does occur, so the event in which Stevens prevents the train explosion exists, as does the many events in which he does not prevent the explosion. This is the logical outcome of physics experiments that demonstrate that an electron takes every possible path from point A to point B, even if we (humans) experience only one.

        • The distinction to be made here is between experience and memory. You may experience all possible paths but what you actually remember is the most probable one. All possible paths are experienced by you and not by duplicates.

          I suppose one interpretation of the movie is to say that although you remember the most probable path, it may be possible to get you to remember the other paths. This interpretion was ultimately abandoned in the movie, however, in favor of making it seem as though he had created a new universe.

    • Your take on it is even worse than the movie’s.

    • You asked the same question that I asked at the end: Steven’s consciousness is now in Sean body – where is Sean’s consciousness?

      I have no problem with the scientific leaps the story takes – it’s fiction, not a science lesson, and it doesn’t need to be plausible. The only aspect that needs to be realistic is the emotional aspect, and in that regard the movie works beautifully.

      BUT, we see that Steven (forgive me if I’ve got the name wrong) is now in Sean’s body and life, and let’s say we decided not to wonder where Sean has gone to. And we know that in this new reality, Goodwin never turned off Steven’s life support, therefore never got the source code scientist mad or or got demoted for it etc., etc.

      Whose consciousness is that twitching in the still semi-alive torso that’s supposed to be Steven? Isn’t Steven touring Chicago with Christina?

      Well, no matter. It’s a terrific movie. The story and the emotional truths are what count.

      • You have no problems with a mind taking over someone else’s body in a work of fiction but you have problems with the concept of a mind having been duplicated — and in a world full of duplicate people no less…?

    • Watching the movie, when Stevens gets run over by the train, he tells the captain that he saved Christina, but when the captain looks her up, she stilldied in the explosion, so even though “sean” still died by being hit by the train and christina lived, It didn’t change the reality, which makes the ending even more confusing. He already changed the past, the train still blew up, but Christina was saved in the source code, but somehow was still killed in the explosion, That completely contradicts the end of the movie where he stopped both bombs and the terrorist and lived happily ever after with christina, and sending the email to the Captain. In the beginning he changed the past, but the reality never changed, so how in the end did the change the past and it actually stick that time?

      • That’s a very good question. When I first watched the movie the ending really threw me because the scientist clearly was telling Stevens that nothing was changing. When I watched the movie again recently I could more easily accept the ending of the movie by considering each time he went into the source code as a different timeline. This, however, contradicts the premise of the movie itself where Stevens is merely accessing Sean’s memories. You see, there is the theory in quantum mechanics that as you go from point A to point B you actually pass through every possible point and thus Stevens could access more information from the Sean’s last eight minutes than we normally process. Of course, if that is the premise of the movie then he wasn’t actually creating new timelines.

        Okay, having seen the movie twice now I think I can come up with an explanation. Stevens in Sean’s body died twice after the eight minutes were up: once when getting hit by a train and once after getting shot. So Stevens could exist in Sean’s body for more than eight minutes even though Sean’s body only originally lived only eight minutes. The next question would be what happens to Stevens in Sean’s body after Stevens’ body dies. The movie suggests that Stevens continues to live out his life in Sean’s body. That seems a bit unfair, seeing as how everybody except Sean as able to the train.

        • …able to survive.

          • Okay, I thought about it a bit more. In layman’s terms we could just say that the ending of the movie was a dream that Stevens had and it would end when his body died. It wasn’t really a dream in the sense that it was what would have happened to Sean had the train not blown up and that was what Stevens was experiencing. That to me makes more sense than alternative timelines.

  3. There were (at least) two alternate realities in play after the protagonist saves the day and gets the girl: One wherein the military is celebrating its manipulated aversion of the nuke detonating, and another – after the protagonist sends his text message – in which the military is unaware of its role in having saved Chicago, but looking forward to an appropriate crisis for a trial of its new tech. Are we to imagine that (post hoc ergo propter hoc) the text message creates the new reality wherein the military is ignorant of its success? Remember, the success and its antecedent series of orders and communications with the disembodied captain would already have occurred by the time of the text message, so if we think the text started this new strand of reality and is the cause of this ignorance, we’d have to think it retroactively erased the base’s characters’ memories of their actions and their triumph. It doesn’t add up (even in “parabolic calculus”, whatever that’s supposed to entail.) Just as with the missing consciousness of Sean-the-teacher, it’s a loose end that isn’t and can’t be satisfactorily explained.

    • An interesting point, however, you’re misunderstanding the timeline of the ending.

      The explosion on the train is what caused the military to begin the application of Source Code, and it is indicated that this application occurs later in the day, after Sean’s body has been recovered and his memory ‘afterglow’ tapped. So, the celebration of the military at their success in the original reality is much later in the day than the text message in the reality where Stevens prevents the attacks.

      They are two distict worlds, and so your perceived ‘loose end’ isn’t actually correct. I agree that Stevens remaining after the 8 minutes in a new reality where he already exists is hard to explain, especially since he has displaced Sean’s consciousness. What will Sean’s family, friends, colleagues and students think when they realise he’s somebody completely different?

      • Perhaps I should add that in the case that two realities now exist, which you considered (and I overlooked in my first reply), they are distinctly separate and what happens in one cannot affect the other. So, Stevens saving the train in the ending’s reality cannot overwrite the memories of the military in the original reality as you suggest – in that one they only managed to stop the dirty bomb and the train bomb did in fact explode.

  4. OK, I’ve waited a few months to see this film – and should have seen it sooner. Anyhow, while it’s more than 8 minutes since I saw it, fortunately, I’m still here to tell the tale! After being a little puzzled, and hoping to find answers here, I am a little disappointed to find you all babbling about irrelevant crap!

    First, source code probably refers to the running of the program itself, i.e. the binary compiled execution in ram! We can forgive a writer/director for calling it that. Arguably, even in the compiled code, if inside the program, calling is source code is good enough! Who knows, maybe their program executes the source right?!

    Next, any of you rambling about physics and quantum realities, please give me a break, which one of you has a theory on everything?! So, anything goes, especially in sci-fi, that’s the point, we could always be wrong, and a sci-fi films explores that potential!

    Now, the conclusion I found in the end, which explains the “film” logic.

    Each time he goes into an instance of the 8 minutes, a new reality is created – or, breached, however you want to see it. Now, given the quantum babble, regardless of all and what ever realities occur, the point at which any derivation is initiation, would suggest that the reality for the alternate reality would have the same fast, and thus all points going forward have the potential to change, but all previous in that new reality or breached alternate universe as an exact replica going backward. In otherwords, each moment in time has a potential to all possible options, but each moment is creating it’s alternative, this would occur exponentially from the dawn of time – in the film theory and a quantum alternative reality theory that we think may exist (but experts on this forum have confirmed with their arm chair science is only sci-fi babble). Having explains the film universe, this means the following is happening:

    Stevens is in REALITY A, any Source Code activity that occurs in A, will be A + N (or rather A – 8 mins + N). That means Stevens enters a new reality each time or breaches an alternative reality, but all historical events are exact replicas (in this instance) from his own parallel reality – because he sparked the alterative from his own, therefore it must continue from that continuum – however as he confirmed, it’s a little different, i.e. events are already sparking off into alternate possibilities.

    So, Stevens has gone in perhaps what 5-6 times? I didn’t count. Anyhow, in these B, C, D, E… realities, Stevens is 8 minutes back in time – in an alternate reality where everything from the split second he wakes is a replica. But nothing from that point has to be, and therefore it starts changing. In otherwise, his exploration is of events from an alternate that have the same past, but a different future. That is what he suggested in the end!

    So, he finally reaches say reality F having failed in B, C, D, E. he has come from Reality A, and visited each other reality from A always – and was brought back to his reality from the others, i.e. he always returned to reality A. However, when he was unplugged, i.e. allowed to die in reality A, there was nothing left to drag him back. Therefore he remains in the reality F. Now, if he had failed in reality F, he would have died like he did in the B, C, D, E etc. However having learned enough to change the event that ends all their lives, he has now altered F significantly, in relation to the event that kills them all! Now, with the machine off in reality A (old reality), he is not dragged back and remains where he is, i.e. in the other guy’s mind!

    So, now that he is in reality F, he is in an alternate reality, whether it was created via the source code execution, or whether he breached it as a parallel universe, is irrelevantly, the point is he is in such a place. So, given that reality F his (new reality) is a replica of all events, that means that an alternate self exists in this reality, but was never used for this event, because at 7am (what ever the time was), he changed the future, and therefore nullified the execution of source code for the event they used it for in Reality A. In other words, he exists twice in Reality F, in a world where he died as a helicopter pilot, and is in status pending use of source code, and in a new body. That means Stevens exists as A+F=new F and F only!

    So, his SMS / email was send to the woman who worked with him in A, but being a replica, also exists in F. So, in theory, this is almost somewhat of an infinite loop, or spiral. Meaning that when he is used again for a future event in reality F, he will probably go though the same cycle, and fingers crossed, end up taking over the other poor bastards existence. Yes, that’s a little bit of an issue, but as they explained, same synaptics etc etc, he fits well. And hey, whos ever body he is inhabiting, that’s just somewhat of a bad luck on their part, but let’s face it, that person died previously right! So, it’s not totally unfair that he’s inhabiting the body of a person who should have died otherwise! I think that’s a fair enough reward for a hero!

    Anyhow, so this means, Stevens F will again go into realities G, H, I, etc etc until he possible repeats the same feats, it will loop forever, from a F+next event point in time.

    That’s my take on it, I apologies to anyone if I actually repeated the same theory / solution, but some of the noob responses were getting to annoying so I jumped in to respond.

    Of all of the possible questions I have remaining, I would mostly be curious about his memory of the large mirror ball that he stood with at the end. Didn’t he see that in his travels into and out of the source code? That would say to me, that his realities always had potential points of alternates given he has not been there yet. So in some ways, the travel within the source code, touched a few other events ahead of time – hence the point that it was related to actual time travel!

    Happy to hear anyone else reply to my theory – for your info, I am a Computer Science grad, and also a Film Maker!

    • Do you expect people to read your post after you dismiss their posts as “irrelevant crap”? Give me a break!

      • To be fair. almost everything before that was irrelevant crap

        • You used the wrong preposition. “almost everything in that was irrelevant crap” would be correct.

  5. Apologies for all the typos in my previous post!

    • “That the world Stevens is experiencing is NOT the TRUE reality.”

      You didn’t understand the premise of the movie. In quantum mechanics, all things that could happen do but we remember the things that would have happened with the greatest probability. Now what if we could remember all the alternative possibilities? That is the premise of the film. Maybe a better movie can be made with this premise. Certainly the premise doesn’t explain the ending of the movie which appears tacked on for no other reason than to provide a happy ending.

      • I’m just thinking out load at this point. What if they had cut Steven out of the movie entirely and just had Sean wake up after the explosion? Sean tells the people at the lab that he wants to talk to his father and let him know he’s okay but they tell him, no, he needs to go back and find out who the terrorist was who blew up the train. Sean tells them he can’t “go back” and they tell him he can by accessing his memories. Sean tells him that he doesn’t know who the terrorist is and they tell him he can find out by going around asking questions to people on the train. He asks how this is possible and they say “Please, Sean, just do as we ask. Lives are at stake. There’s another bomb set to go off in Chicago and you are our only hope. And please hurry because each time you go back you only have eight minutes before the bomb goes off again.” Sean does as they say and he is able to tell them who the terrorist is even though he doesn’t know how this is possible and it is never explained.

        The problem then becomes how to end the movie. They show Sean from the point of view of the people of the lab and he is on life support and dying but, hey, at least they saved Chicago, right? Bummer.

        I have to wonder if the earliest draft of the script wasn’t like this and that they didn’t add the Steven character to the script in order to give it a happy ending. Thing is the movie no longer makes sense because it is never explained how Steven was accessing Sean’s memories of why it had to be Steven and not somebody else.

        • The issue as to who’s memory Stevens accesses is also not that big an issue, we can assume, that “Sean’s” mind were the most accessible (with the relevant synaptic brain maps – which was mentioned)…

          Anyhow, there is no way that he’s in the past, because regardless of much they claimed that “Sean’s’ memories recorded more than he may have known, it’s NOT POSSIBLE to record anything outside of visual reference… i.e. looking at the bomb (which was hidden) – no manner of hyper alert subconscious memory can have that stored, unless a) he had x-ray vision, or b) the explosion unravelled all things in the environment and the subconscious is able to re-construct it.. (I very much doubt that was what they said – I don’t remember), but that’s a little silly…

          Martin – OK, let’s put things into perspective, talking about the quantum physics related to parallel universes – is what I called irrelevant – no need to get so personally offended – honestly man, chillax!

          • Except that quantum mechanics was mentioned in the movie and people do use quantum mechanics (incorrectly) to justify parallel universes. So it isn’t irrelevant: it is very much part of the movie and how it is explained. Your talk about realities A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H and I was irrelevant because no labels were given in the film which means you are the only one who knows what those labels refer to.

        • My husband and I just saw the movie last night, and he ended up concluding that Stevens is in an alternate reality (similar to what Omega called describes).

          As well as others here, I wonder why the maimed/vegetative Stevens is twitching if Goodwin shut down his life support? Is he in a different reality (say “F” as Omega labeled it)? B/c as someone else mentioned, after Goodwin gets the text from Stevens (as Sean) she goes in to Rutledge and the TV is saying a terrorist attack was averted (but no one there seems to know about it or be taking credit for it and they’re getting ready to test out Stevens/Source Code). Which reality is she in??

          Where DOES Sean’s consciousness go if Stevens continues on in the other reality?

          And, yes: how did they get a hold of Sean’s consciousness/body in the Source Code? Wouldn’t he have been blown to smithereens?

          If they are both dead, why don’t they have to hook Colter’s brain up to what’s left of Sean’s brain to access his body/mind in the Source Code? How does it work without doing something like that???

          In response to the poster who was talking about Colter accessing Sean’s memories (and those who wondered if he was accessing Sean’s subconscious or whether it would have the ability to remember something it hadn’t seen), I think your theory doesn’t work. Colter was NOT accessing Sean’s memories, he had none of Sean’s memories, and admitted it the entire movie. Colter’s consciousness and memories replaced Sean’s. He went in to the last 8 mins of Sean’s life with his own consciousness each time and relived those 8 mins for Sean, in a different manner each time, making new memories (which are still Colter’s, and not Sean’s). Sean’s body is used solely as a vessel. It reminds me of The Host (or what the typical response was of the host/vessel relationship, not the main character whose brain didn’t cooperate).

          As far as quantum physics and regular calculus let alone “parabolic calculus”, I know nothing about them. I am a hausfrau, of some intelligence, though no where near the genius level. However, for everyone griping about the non-reality of a Sci-fi movie, I just want to laugh. You all sound like my father in law (who is a science and math teacher), who has such a hard time enjoying movies b/c he can’t get beyond how “that’s not possible” or “oh, that’s CG.” I will tell you what I tell him “It’s Hollywood!” You really can’t take it seriously. Is anything realistically depicted in Hollywood? Let alone a sci-fi movie which is BASED on unrealistic science principles? Hello! It’s called Science FICTION for that reason!!! We all know it can’t really happen.

          I have to say however, the fact that I have no basis in these fields of study, and yet I was able to question many of the same plot holes, gave my self-esteem a little lift. Mothering 3 children under 5 years old, 24 hours a day makes me wonder if I am losing my intelligence like water through a seive (except the desired part is what is being sifted away!). :-)

          • Exactly youre right…”Colter was NOT accessing Sean’s memories, he had none of Sean’s memories”. That means that the world Colter is experiencing in the Source Code is one that has been created for him by Rutledge.

            These 2 reason you your self posted proves why

            ”And, yes: how did they get a hold of Sean’s consciousness/body in the Source Code? Wouldn’t he have been blown to smithereens”?

            ”If they are both dead, why don’t they have to hook Colter’s brain up to what’s left of Sean’s brain to access his body/mind in the Source Code? How does it work without doing something like that.”???

  6. Interesting read, it’s a possibility…

    Did the woman start by saying it was going to be ok?

    …if yes, then the loop had been going for a while!

    …as I think he asked her to tell his double that!

  7. Marty – you back from the future?

    I maintain the fact that current science which is a work in progress is irrelevant in regard to whether the viewer can accept a film premise and suspending belief.

    To walk out of Source Code, believing that the film was flawed because of its use of quantum theory – is somewhat futile.

    …or perhaps your experiments in your garage have confirmed that Source Code was inaccurate? Can you link us your report on quantum theory and parallel dimensions?

    If not, once again, I maintain its irrelevance!

    • My Masters and Ph.D. physics theses are not available online. Sorry.

  8. I just finished the movie, and while I could be totally wrong, I perceived the ending as saying that the email that Stevens sends while in the Source Code during his last trip is received by the Goodwin in reality “F.” Because Source Code in reality “A” causes the apprehension of the bomber in reality “F,” the reality that Stevens ends in is unaware of both the success/failure or the true power of the Source Code project.

    They have no need to implement it as the bombing never occurs and they are never needed.

    Furthermore, the Stevens that Goodwin sees at the end is the ALTERNATE Stevens, who is still mostly dead and waiting to be used as a test subject for the Source Code Project. By ending in Fentress’s body, there are two versions of Steven’s consciousness in Reality “F.” Steven’s from reality “A” which overtook and remained in Fentress’s body, and the actual Steven’s of reality “F” which is still being held as a vessel for the Source Code project.

    Again, I could be wrong, but thats just how I saw it.


  9. Agreed, also possible…

  10. Check out the big brain on Brad! You’re a smart MOFO!

  11. So reality F is the matrix? nobody mentioned that Christina’s face corrupted in the middle of the movie.

  12. I just thought the movie was really depressing. I agree with “Groundhog Day meets 24″ comment. Really the sci fi elements were poorly developed. The ending was corny, and I guess it tried to act as a twist with the alternate reality thing, but it really just confused me.

  13. I think people are missing the jump from quantum mechanics to the many-worlds interpretation. the SC program was developed from quantum mechanics which is why SC01 was able to do things beyond what his handlers thought possible, they were unaware of what they actually had done.

    Though this argument might be flawed its open for discussion.

  14. missed the good stuff on page two lol

  15. just finished watching this film and may I say it was amazing. I dont really like the beginning but the rest was just fantastic, really enjoy it

  16. No one has asked – how did Colter know how to contact Goodwin for the surprise ending text/email?

    He didn’t have her cell phone number. He didn’t know her email.

  17. Things to think about. In the beginning when Steven is waking up on the train(1st time), he is leaning his head against the window and as he moves his head away he looks out the window and the reflection on the window is that of Steven’s face. Later the reflection in the window and in the mirror in the bathroom is that of Sean’s face. And why/how is Steven flashing back to the mirrored ball thing in the park (as he is going back to Goodwin from the train)without having experiencing it yet?

  18. I’m a masters student studying theoretical physics and string theory and I think some of you are making this a little more difficult than it really is.

    Simply put, there are many parallel universes which are nearly identical to ours (but with subtle differences as shown in the movie). And each time Steven goes to the train, its an entirely different train in an entirely new universe. The decisions he makes in each universe affects its outcome and time just goes on accordingly.

    However, the biggest problem of the movie is that we aren’t able to travel back and forth between these parallel universes (this would be called time travel).

    The whole theory of parallel universes was only accepted by the scientific community as plausible as little as 15 years ago, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re still a little confused with the movie or its logic.

    • Righto, coz scientists accept it, it’s true?

      The odds that parallel universe(s) exists is madness!

      Anyhow, I met a particle physicist soecializing in dark matter and quantum theory, and he acknowledged that he can’t even verify that god doesn’t exist.

      So spare us the modern day science when justifying our ignorance as non scientific plebs!

    • BS.

      If you are referring to the Many World’s Interpretation of quantum mechanics then you should know that our universe behaves like an infinite superposition of alternative universes. That’s (count it) one universe made up of many. The observed path is typically the most direct path between two points. This is why we have straight lines in Feynman diagrams.

      If you are referring to other universes then, yes, there could be other universes but why would another universe have another you and another me? Incidentally… 15 years… from what hat did you pull that out from? Other universes are predicted from General Relativity. In fact, it stands to reason that there are other universes because we used to think Earth was the only planet, that our sun was the only sun and that our galaxy was the only galaxy. But other planets don’t have copies of you and me and nor do other universes.

      Oh and traveling to another universe would not be time travel.

      So… how far into your Master’s program are you? It sounds like you’ve got a long way to go.

  19. Just to clarify, I didn’t say that other universes don’t exist, but at that point, really should would it not be a multiverse. Anyhow, parallel universes, with exact events is what I mean by madness!

  20. I felt that in the ‘science bit’ source code attempted to explore the bizarre interaction between human consciousness and objective reality. At the core of the projected technology in this story is the idea in quantum theory that we are able to change things by just observing them, and that this has profound implications in extremis. I also had the impression that the end of the movie opened up a multiverse of consciousness and possibilities, and seemed to suggest that the ultimate nature of life and consciousness is endless variety in any dimension. The meatphysical element was expanded with a suggestion that human love might somehow be the key to access this virtual immortality of consciousness, which traditionally I would say it has, if only in that most of us are created from a form of love via sex.
    For me the macguffin about the terrorist plot was the weakest part of the movie. But it didn’t matter too much as it was just that, and as such it was effective. I thought it was pretty good for Hollywood.

    • You’re reading way too much into this movie. At the heart you have an injured man who goes back into memories to discover what happened to cause a train to explode. It would have made more sense if the injuries he had suffered occurred on the train and that the memories were his own memories. It is never explained how he was able to access someone else’s memories. Is he suddenly telepathic? WTF?! You can see this was written by committee and the committee came back with comments like…

      * Don’t show him injured at the beginning. Let it be the big reveal at the end.

      * Have him not know the girl. Let him fall in love with her over the course of the film even though he’s supposed to be focused on the terrorist plot and she thinks he’s somebody else. It’s like Groundhog Day but with a terrorist plot!

      * Even though the scientist says that the people on the train die and there’s no way to save them, let’s throw away all sense and logic so we can have a happy ending where he saves everybody on the train and gets the girl. Never mind that she still thinks he is somebody else.

      So what could have been a cool science fiction movie about a dying man accessing his memories to see what might have happened in order to learn more about what did happen you get a movie which, as you say, is “pretty good for Hollywood” but we both know that is not saying much.

      • Wow. You guys are smart.

  21. i think the film is a bit simpler than some of you guys are making it.

    the source code program seems to have the ability to send a consciousness to a parallel universe. in universe A the train blew up and colter is sent to universe B at the time 8 minutes before the bomb goes off.

    every time he goes back he loops that same 8 minutes of universe B – it’s not creating the new universe each time (that would result in 5-6 universes where the train blew up killing everyone!) but simply overwriting the previous one so that only the final loop actually becomes the reality of universe B.

    in universe A the train blows up, and through colter they get the information they need to stop the main bomb, then colter dies. this universe is continuing though and after the end of the film, but since colter is dead there is no reason to show any more of it on screen.

    in the FINAL timeline on universe B (the one that overwrites all the others), sean suddenly becomes colter who defuses the bomb and ties up derek. he thinks (as does goodwin) that the universe he is in is just a simulation by source code, and will end when source code does. but he has doubts, so he sends the message to goodwin on the offchance that they are wrong, and the new timeline will continue. he then gets the comedian to make everyone laugh and kisses christina to create a perfect final moment on the train (if source code was just a simulation, it would have ended here!). when time does not actually end, it is confirmed that universe B is an entirely independent world. so christana and colter leave the train alive and happy, and goodwin in universe B gets the email – not the original goodwin.

    sean is not a loose end, he is just written over by colter and is effectively dead. however, since he was going to die anyway and by taking him over colter was able to save dozens of lives, it’s not really too unfair or cruel.

    no, this movie does not follow all the rules of physics: the version of the many worlds theory used in this film is not the one which is proposed by scientists, and it’s pretty bizarre that colter’s consciousness was able to possess someone like that. but it’s just a film, and if it didn’t break rules of physics there would be no film at all.

  22. There is a timeline A. Everyone dies in the explosion, and Sean’s death allows Colter to enter the situation and creates Timeline B. Without Sean’s death, there is no source code reentry. Colter cannot save Sean.

    Contrary to Dr. Rutledge’s belief, Colter is able to stay beyond the eight minute barrier. We see this first when he pulls Christina from the train (and is killed by another train). Because he is killed, the HQ does not pick up on the time difference.

    This happens again, at the Van, when both he and Christina are killed by the bomber. However, the time difference is not enough for HQ to notice.

    In the final timeline, in part because everyone survives the effect is dramatic. I view each individual “change” as creating a different timeline.

    However to repeat, there is no timeline where the original Sean survives. Sean’s death allows Colter to enter using Source Code.

  23. To be honest with you all this movie is one of those movies where it’s your take on the science behind it. At the end of the day its a film it does have to make sense if it was a documentary then yeah go all ” science fiction on their arse “. The only people who knows what the films meaning or ending if you will are those in the movie so, for all we know your all right.

    • “it does have to make sense if it was a documentary”

      So fictional movies don’t have to make sense?

  24. The movie is from a philosophy of determinism. No matter what you do, the ending will always be the same. There is nothing you can do to change your fate.

    While everyone is arguing the interesting details, this movie shows that either you die in this world or if you escape that, you will die 8 minutes later in the other world.

    Like the guy that accidentally finds a bomb in his apartment, calls the police and escapes it, only to be run over by an automobile when he crosses the street that day, or a few days later.

    The Deterministic view is that the universe is set up this way and while it looks like you have free will, you actually don’t.

  25. Stevens is able to find the portable bomb in the ceiling, but he never thinks to remove it and put it into an piece of rolling luggage and then wait for the one train stop. He could then roll the bomb off the train inside the luggage and leave it at the station and then reboard the train the train takes off with the bomb in the luggage at the station. When the bomb is detonated the bomber has it go off right next to his parking lot. What a bug out for him? The train continues on unabated and stops in Union Station with no loss of life. A few would die at the platform but it looked mostly empty. What do you think. Remember that the bomber took the bomb on board in a piece of luggage in order to plant the bomb in the first place so this reverse scenario is not impossible. Or is it?

    • I’ve just watched this on TV tonight and am just as confused as anyone here. Taking the package off the train seems possible but the bomber would probably have activated some booby traps to stop this from happening. He obviously put the second cell phone in the bomb as a kind of insurance against the first one being discovered by someone who then ran off quickly as Stevens does in this case. Yes, i agree that the “happy” ending was just to please us romanticists but it did look like the film was ending when Stevens kisses the girl and the frame freezes and we then travel around the carriage during this freeze. Then the scene unfroze and things continued and the pair were able to live “happily ever after” in an alternative universe. I enjoyed this film not for scientific accuracy but for its adequate drama qualities and I love a happy ending.