Greetings again from the darkness. Duncan Jones (son of David Bowie) was the writer/director for a terrific 2009 film called Moon (highly recommended). Here he stays in the sci-fi realm with a thrilling and brainy script from Ben Ripley. The best, most accessible sci-fi films not only don’t require the viewer to hold a Ph.d, but they also don’t talk down to us. This is a fast-moving script with a smart (though a bit preposterous) premise, and plenty of reality to keep us glued to the screen … and hanging on every word spoken.
It’s impossible to write much about the film and not give away some of the stuff that makes it fun, so my comments will be brief. Trying to figure out what’s happening, how it’s happening, and whether they can stop it from happening again … well, that’s just about all a movie lover can hope for! So I won’t give away any more than what the trailer sets up.
Jake Gyllenhaal is Colter Stevens and he is involved in a remarkable project that allows “time travel” to a parallel universe so that a military contractor can discover the terrorist who bombed a train. The first time he wakes up on the train across from Christina (Michelle Monaghan) he has no idea who she is or where he is. 8 minutes later he is face to face with Captain Goodwin’s face (Vera Farmiga) on a monitor with her voice telling him to calm down. Her boss (Jeffrey Wright) is some type of ambitious genius trying to make a name and a buck for himself.
The story evolves by Gyllenhaal being sent back and forth between “then and now” on numerous occasions with the mission of uncovering the identity of the train bomber. Of course, Gyllenhaal is a good soldier and wants to go above and beyond the call of duty. With some of the elements of Groundhog Day, the film then spins off and gets tricky and brilliant.
Director Jones works wonders with the camera and we are treated to some fascinating images – both large (Chicago) and small (Gyllenhaal in a train restroom). Great stuff here. That’s about all I will say on this one. It should be obvious how much I like it. Also, a fun note … the phone voice of Gyllenhall’s father is that of Scott Bakula, who is known for his role in the TV series “Quantum Leap“, also a time travel premise.
SEE THIS MOVIE IF: you have one of those minds that is always asking “What if it were possible to …”
SKIP THIS MOVIE IF: you prefer your movies grounded in reality and have no use for any of that stinking hypothetical bunk.