Of course, being a movie it’s not quite as easy as it sounds.
Captain Colter Stephen’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) is the lucky soldier to be sent back to determine who blew up a commuter train heading into Chicago, and the cargo train next to it. He does this by becoming Sean, a teacher on the train. Sean is travelling with Christina (Michelle Monaghan), a co-worker, and of course being the woman he’s closest to, they fall in love. It was her or his handler in the Beleaguered Castle program.
So, for 8 minutes at a time, using a computer reconstruction of the events, Colter can go back and re-live it. Not just relive it, but do whatever he wants within the timeline. Some computer program right? In the real world, Sean sat in his seat on the train and didn’t move. In the project, Colter runs around the train, finds things hidden and even leaves the train and interracts with people the real Sean never did and couldn’t have.
And yet, they are all taken as “real” by the military. Intel gained in the sim is verified in the real world. If the computer sim had all this knowledge, why didn’t someone just ask it? “Computer? Hello, Computer? Where’s the bomb and who did this?”
Of course, there’s no love story then. Nor the shocking surprise about Capt. Stephens.
Cool fact – Colter’s dad is voiced by the venerable and popular Scott Bakula.
So – overall, I’m gonna have to give it a 2 / 5 stars. There’s nothing new or exciting here. The ongoing deaths of Christina and Colter on the train are very well shot, but that’s about the most redeeming quality. Even the usually charming and handsome Jake seems wasted in this movie. Vera Farmiga as the handler (Colleen Goodwin) is even more wasted.
Yet another movie with a decent premise, wasted by poor writing and direction.