Time after time
Source Code, “time reassignment” thriller, rated PG-13, Regal Stadium 14, 3 chiles A handsome, scruffy young man is napping on a commuter train, leaning his head against the window. He wakes up, looking disoriented, as most of us would, but instead of stretching, yawning, and starting up a conversation with his fellow passengers, he glances around, wide-eyed, bewildered, and slightly panicked.
Jake Gyllenhaal is Capt. Colter Stevens, an Army pilot who served in Afghanistan and who has no idea where he is, how he got there, or where he’s headed. He also doesn’t recognize the lovely young woman (Michelle Monaghan) sitting across from him and cheerfully chatting away as though nothing is amiss. Colter excuses himself to the bathroom, where a hesitant glance in the mirror reveals the face of a different man — a milquetoast teacher. A few minutes later, the train explodes, killing everyone onboard.
Except Colter, apparently, who comes to in an ominous-looking capsule straight out of the Twilight Zone. Via computer monitors, a woman in uniform named Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) gets his attention, calms him down, and debriefs him — although you can tell she’s not putting all her cards on the table.
Colter, she eventually declares, is part of a covert military experiment called Source Code. Using quantum physics and “parabolic calculus,” scientists have found a way to harness the electrical “afterglow” of brain activity in recently deceased people, link a live brain with similar characteristics to that activity, and send that brain back to a point eight minutes before those individuals met their demise. Or something like that.
Although the teacher is dead, Colter has been tasked with reliving his last eight minutes — repeatedly — until he finds the bomber on the train. If he can extract that information, the military can thwart the terrorist’s plans to detonate a dirty bomb in downtown Chicago later in the day. Just in case Colter starts feeling heroic, though, his handler informs him that he can’t prevent the explosion on the train or save any of the passengers — that “reality” has already happened and is cemented in the past. “This isn’t time travel,” says the vaguely sinister mastermind-in-chief ( Jeffrey Wright). “It’s time reassignment.” Huh? You could get all cerebral about Source Code, the sophomore project from director Duncan Jones ( Moon), with a screenplay by Ben Ripley. You could scratch your head, try to comprehend all the quantum claptrap, use your iPad’s whiteboard app to sketch out timelines and loops of reality until your