Source Code

It’s been said that time travel is impossible, otherwise people would be suddenly popping into the present and life scenarios would suddenly change as the future was previously altered. However, that’s only true if all the occupants of a time line are participants, not observers. If the future is abstract and begins only as the participant enters it, then there are an infinite number of universe possibilities and the participant literally makes it up as he goes along. The future could change an infinite number of times and the participant would not observe it in real time.

Our hero in “Source Code” has the ability to be both an observer and participant in eight minutes of a recurring future the rest of the participants cannot be aware of. The physics of this phenomenon involve programming neurotransmission. In the words of its creator Dr. Rutherford, “It’s not time travel, it’s time re-assignment”. He is sent back enabled with “overlapping consciousness” to find the key to a mystery time after time, just like Groundhog Day, each time arriving forearmed with more observations from pervious iterations that will lead him to solving the mystery.

However, once the mystery is solved, the resulting conclusion takes a very radical turn into physics that was previously not defined or predicted, which strains credibility somewhat. That said, it’s not out of the question that the entire concept was poorly understood from the outset, they were flying blind and had no idea what this experiment was capable of in it’s logical extreme. Alternate realities not only capable of self-sustaining but capable also of interacting.

At this point I will refrain from further spoilers.

Other than a few minor non-sequiturs and some pretty hokey biophysics (all of which work at least for the plot), this film is a worthy successor to two others working the same theme, “Inception” and “The Adjustment Bureau”. Jake Gyllenhaal was well cast. His chemistry with recurring and long suffering female acquaintance gorgeous Michelle Monaghan seemed genuine. Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air) was also notable as was Frederick De Grandpre as the intense Dr. Rutherford. The dialogue was fresh, the plot was appropriately complex, interesting and intelligent. Appropriate for kids.

I give it four of five flash fires.

Ummmm, my understanding is that time travel FORWARD is a theoretical possibility as it wouldn’t create a paradox, but backwards is out.

I found your movie description very tough to follow, but gather from the end of your critique that you liked the movie.

Ummmm, my understanding is that time travel FORWARD is a theoretical possibility as it wouldn’t create a paradox, but backwards is out.

OK, lets try it again.

It has always been thought that if time travel was possible, then anyone going back to the past could alter something and the future would change. Like the old chestnut goes, if someone went back and killed my father, I would never be born and I would vanish in front of everyone I know. The butterfly effect; a butterfly flaps it’s wings in Peking and it rains in New York City.

We don’t perceive any of that happening. Therefore, reverse time travel, even though technically possible (wormholes) requires some stretch of the imagination to conceive of the practical reality. Just because we don’t perceive people that weren’t there before popping in and out and the landscape doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t happening. We simply might not be aware it’s happening.

The popping in and out phenomenon would only be observable if the future was preformed but alterable as I sailed through on a rail, and I could compare differences. One instant, the future was what I recognized and in the next instant it was something else because I can compare the differences. In my present, my wife is here, in the next frame she isn’t and never existed. I would be a participant in my history without the potential to observe alternate realities.

However, if the future is custom made specifically to accommodate my entry into it, then I would not necessarily notice any changes at all. The future is a void until the instant I enter it, then it accommodates to the thrust of my perception of reality. There are an infinite number of futures that could accommodate a change fomented by a past action and integrate that change into my current reality seamlessly. If my wife vanished, that future could be made compatible with my past in an infinite number of ways. My future could be an infinite variety that would appear seamless to me because I have no other frame of reference. I would be both a a participant and an observer with the potential to choose (or have chosen for me) alternate realities.

The protagonist in “The Source Code” has been given the ability to both participate in a progression from the past to the future, and also observe it/supervise it with foreknowledge. Each time he enters the eight minute clip of history, he does so with knowledge of what happened in each previous iteration, and his actions can change the progression of events……….at least within the eight minute clip. Whether the sum total of the eight minutes is capable of integrating into the stream of the rest of history is another matter.

And therein hangs a spoiler you don’t get. See the flick for the rest.

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