Air Force Capt. Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) suddenly awakes aboard a Chicago computer train inhabiting the body of an unknown man and seated across from Christina (Michelle Monaghan), a pretty, garrulous passenger. Colter's—and our—confusion is soon interrupted when the train explodes, and Colter discovers he is part of the titular government experiment that allows him to cross over into another person's identity in the last eight minutes of their life. Colter's mission is to ID the train's bomber, who apparently intends to annihilate the Windy City's downtown district. Director Duncan Jones (Moon
) spackles over the copious cracks in writer Ben Ripley's quantum claptrap. The dimension-jumping, mystery-within-a-mystery construct keeps the audience suitably engaged until the film reveals its own true identity: a compassionate core and durable romantic subplot helped by Gyllenhaal and Monaghan's nimble, likeable performances. This film's own source code is best defined as 12 Monkeys
meets Groundhog Day
. Common sense not included.