There’s a certain period of disorientation/discombobulation that’s normal after every
nap, but what happens to Lt. Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) is extreme. Not only
does he find himself on a train, with no recollection of how he got there; he’s sitting
across from a beautiful woman, Christina (Michelle Monaghan) who seems to know
him, but he doesn’t recognize her at all. Not only that, she calls him Sean, and that’s
not even his name.
The last thing Lt. Stevens remembers is being on a mission for the Army in
Afghanistan, as a helicopter pilot. Where are his men? Where is he now? How did
he get here? Who are these people around him? And more chilling still, he looks in
the mirror and sees an image of someone who’s not himself.
To say much more would be to give away the plot, but suffice it to say that Lt.
Stevens has apparently been drafted into a very unusual secret mission for the
government, which involves his identity, and his willingness to accept orders from
a Captain Goodwin (Vera Farmiga), a kindly face on a computer screen who keeps
telling him that all his questions are irrelevant, he just needs to focus on his new
We can’t help but root for our beleaguered Lt. Stevens (they even use the
word “beleaguered” as the code name for this mysterious government mission). And
of course we are rooting for him to not only discover what happened to him, but also
to gain control over what seems so completely out of his hands.
Sure, there are holes in the logic. There always are, when you start trying to bend
time and space physics. But it’s a really fun ride, and the characters are well chosen,
and the story is just original enough to make it a satisfying twist on some well-
rehearsed themes. Just hurry and see it before someone spoils the ending it for you.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen is co-pastor of United Presbyterian Church, Greenville, Texas.