Source Code has nothing to do with programming; instead it starts as a time travel thriller and morphs into a tale of parallel universes and messages from beyond. Dr. Rutledge is the crippled, mumbling inventor of a device he calls the Source Code, a machine that peers into the thoughts of dying brains and constructs a virtual reality simulation of their last moments. To prove its efficacy, his team acquires the not-quite-dead body of a soldier named Colter Stevens who has been blown to pieces in Afghanistan, wipes his memory, and wires his consciousness into the simulation of the last eight minutes of a commuter train soon to be bombed.
The idea of amputees and paralyzed people being given new life by having their consciousness transferred into a simulation or avatar body is an increasingly common trope as our technological sophistication increases, but as Stevens tries to point out to Dr. Rutledge, he has not obtained consent from anybody in this scenario, nor have they taken into account the trauma of, well, being blown up repeatedly. Rutledge snaps “You know, many soldiers would find this preferable to death. The opportunity to continue serving their country.” (We suppose Stevens is insufficiently grateful for his perpetual enslavement to the military industrial complex.) In this way Rutledge portrays the stereotype of the evil genius cripple, so out of touch with the feelings of others that their twistedness must be physically manifest; his disability serves no other purpose to the plot whatsoever. (In short, the writers are using a crutch as a crutch.) One would be tempted to make an armchair diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, except Aspies tend to have a higher moral sense than Rutledge displays.