TMG Scale 6.5
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright

This movie is a real mind bender.  It may appeal more to the nerd crowd that got an A in calculus, love sci-fi and actually have some remote concept of quantum physics. Then again, it may not. It just leaves those of us who love movie thrillers in the dust….or in a time lapse continuum. Bottom line, this movie will be bigger with the Inception (2010) crowd than with the Back to the Future fans.

Let me emphasize the positive though.  The idea for this movie is very cool…I think. Gyllenhaal’s performance is top notch.  The cinematography of Chicago at both beginning and end of the film is inspiring and beautiful but has nothing to do with the film.  Chicago is an awesome town and hardly needs the good publicity. The problem is it takes forever to establish a basic storyline and it will strain your brain even trying to understand the fantasy science behind it. TMG gets the concept of lightspeed and the basic idea of time travel. This movie just goes off on a drug induced mind bender.

It is hard to describe this movie without lots of spoiler warnings, so I will tread lightly.  Gyllenhaal plays Colter Stevens, a helicopter pilot shot down in Afghanistan. Only “part ” of him survives to be utilized in a black box military bio science project.  It capitalizes on his remaining brain function to occupy a parrallel universe. I have lost you already and I don’t even know what I am talking about here. To makes this easier, it appears they have the ability to send him back in time for brief periods to attempt to thwart a terrorist attack.  Each time Stevens goes back, he learns a little more and falls a little more in love with Christina (Monaghan), the girlfriend of the real person whose persona he occupies. It is all kind of cool but it is just too weird to comprehend it all.

The project’s mission commander and communicator Colleen Goodwin (Farmiga) starts cold and tough but even she begins to have her doubts about leaving a man somewhere between life and death just to help solve crime in the future. Can she set Stevens free to die peacefully,  or allow him to enter a new alternate reality?  She operates from a super secret hi-tech base call “Beleaguered Castle.” Some base understanding of the card game by  the same name will be helpful here—that most lose the game in their first few moves. Farmiga adds a sense of conscience and raw sexuality to the movie and that helped a bit…but not enough.

I think the real sci-fi and Matrix genre fans may be disappointed with this effort. But we can blame the script writers here, not the actors. The basic concept is just too convoluted to inspire like the  The Butterfly Effect did in 2004.  You will hear Christina repeat one line almost at the point of nausea in this film, “So I took your advice…” Take TMG’s advice,  and go see Limitless with Bradley Cooper this week instead.