I was watching Source Code last night on my new Blu Ray player, which I must say is awesome, and I was slightly confused by the ending. I don’t know if whoever reads this has seen the film but I thought it a complete cop-out.
I’d remembered reading somewhere on the web that the film was being developed for a TV series so after watching the film I went online to see if my memory had been correct. I found a link to a site that was discussing the ending and giving possible interpretations to it. In my opinion I think they missed the point completely.
The discussion ran on at great length on how the central character was sent back into the last eight minutes of the life of someone on the train to try to find the person who left the bomb and in so doing try to avert further catastrophes. They said that each time he went back he was in a parallel timeline and this is how the ending came about where he actually saved everyone on the train including himself and the girl to go on and live a happy normal life. What they fail to mention was that in a scene where the doctor who invented the Source Code, the device that enabled them to send him back into the last eight minutes of this other persons life, it was explained that the central character was in fact dead, he had been killed in combat in Afghanistan and, this is where it get’s a little technical, apparently when you die your brain stays alive or holds a residual signal of the last eight minutes of your life. The Source Code was a computer program that enabled them to sync those brain signals to another dead person, if the synapses linked up and enable the central character to live the last eight minutes of this other person to see what caused their death. In the film the central character asks those in control to allow him to die once he’s completed his mission because they can send him back as many times as it is required to live out those last eight minutes and for him to keep on dyeing is nothing but torture, especially as he grows close to one particular passenger on the train.
Now taking into consideration that the central character is dead and only eight minutes of his memory is kept alive by virtue of a computer program and ever trip he makes into the last eight minutes of that other persons life on the train, which they tell him on numerous occasions in the film, has already happened and no matter what he does he cannot alter what has already happened, the ending does not make sense.
If the train has already blown up and everyone on board had died and whatever he did would not change things how, in the last trip he makes does he suddenly alter reality?
It’s a total cop-out and it brings me to the point of this, albeit somewhat ranting post. My girlfriend, some time ago said to me that American cinema does not like and in the most part, will not allow unhappy endings unless necessary. The good guy must get the girl, he must kill the bad guy and everything must work out for the best unless the story demands it otherwise. Now I don’t have a problem with that, I quite like happy endings, I think they send out a message of hope and in my writing I try to give the reader that same sense of hope that I like to get from a thrilling read. I hate the idea of rooting for a protagonist for umpteen pages only to have everything dragged from under them in the last few pages, but in this case I certainly see what she meant.
To me the ending of this film was not only blatant but unnecessary. The ending for me would have been just as satisfying if they had adhered to the central characters wishes and allowed him to die at the end of the mission. He knew he couldn’t actually change anything, that he was locked in a computer simulation but he wanted to at least try to do something in the only reality he knew before his last eight minutes were up. If he had died in the moment of that last kiss it would have been poignant, it would have been relevant, it would have been satisfying and above all, it would have been logical. In his last eight minutes he would have saved the day, got the girl and got the bad guy so to some extent it would have been a happy ending of sorts, instead the producers decided to throw logic out the window and have him change reality which made the preceding hour and however long, pointless.
I have no idea if they will manage to get the go ahead to make the series or what form it will take or how many liberties they’ll take with logical story telling but if the original film is anything to go by it might be worth a watch just to see.
Anyway, I hope all this makes sense to some of you and hope to see you soon.