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Déjà Vu Review

By Shawn McKenzie 11/22/2006

The Synopsis:

During Fat Tuesday in New Orleans, the Canal Street ferry has hundreds of people taking a trip on it…including a fleet of Navy sailors.  Suddenly, it explodes, killing 543 people.  The thought is that it is terrorism, and Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF, which apparently also includes bombs) agent Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) has been sent to investigate the scene.  By examining the debris, Doug confirms that the explosion was no accident.  He then examines the corpse of a young woman named Claire Kuchever (Paula Patton), who washed up ashore and thought to be one of the victims of the ferry bombing.  When the medical examiner (Brian Howe) tells Doug that the time of death occurred before the explosion, Doug becomes suspicious.  Impressed with Doug’s talent for observation, FBI agent Andrew Pryzwarra (Val Kilmer) asks him if he will assist the FBI in using a new surveillance technology that might help find the bomber.  Pryzwarra takes Doug to meet his boss Jack McCready (Bruce Greenwood) and the team, consisting of head technician Dr. Alexander Denny (Adam Goldberg), along with Gunnars (Elden Henson) and Shanti (Erika Alexander) manning the computer, which they call Snow White.  At first, they are vague about how it works, only saying that they can monitor things in a linear fashion from four days and six hours ago (kind of like a real-life TiVo) in a specific geographic area.  Doug soon realizes though that they have found a way to fold time back upon itself, and that they are watching things that actually happened.  This past hasn’t happened yet, so in theory, Doug believes that they could change the future by altering the past.  First, they need to find the bomber, and Doug thinks that by focusing on Claire, they will find him.  Doug’s talents are why they brought him in, because even though it can spy on anything in this specific location using multiple angles, the ability to see through walls, and the ability to simulate audio, they need Doug to tell them what specifically to look for.  When Doug receives a phone message from Claire he got previously from a work associate, Agent Kevin Donnelly (Mark Phinney), he starts to piece things together.  He races to find the bomber, who they eventually identify as a man named Carroll Oerstadt (Jim Caviezel), before he kills Claire again and blows up the ferry again, because Doug also finds out that one of the victims is his partner, Larry Minuti (Matt Craven.)

The Review:

Tony Scott has directed some of the most exciting and interesting action movies over the last 25 years, but not all of them have been appreciated.  Déjà Vu is an example of one that most people will find appreciated by audiences and critics alike…mainly because of the performance of Washington.

Before we get to Washington’s performance, I must mention how cool of a head trip this movie was.  At first, the movie seemed standard-looking.  While the ferry explosion at the beginning was impressive, it wasn’t exactly unexpected.  It looked like the opening scene of an episode of “C.S.I.: Miami” (not the original “C.S.I.,” because “Miami” tends to involve water.)  Once Kilmer’s character shows up and brings Washington into the fold, then we get the real story.  The best scene involves a car chase scene with Washington using a helmet that allows him to see a stretch of road that Caviezel’s character drove down four days ago in the past (it will make sense when you see it.)  The writers…newcomer Bill Marsilii and Terry Rossio (who co-wrote the hits The Mask of Zorro in 1998, Shrek in 2001, and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl in 2003)…took a lot of care to flesh out a story explaining the space-time continuum in a way that makes sense in the end.  I will say that I thought I had experienced déjà vu myself at point.  There is a brief encounter between Washington and Patton at the very end of the movie that I swear was also in the beginning of the movie.  It has been confirmed to me by my colleague Reggie McDaniel and several other people who saw some of the advance screenings that this did not happen.  I guess I have to give kudos (or blame) to the people who advertised this movie, because the scene in question is in the movie’s trailer.  Either way, I highly advise you to pay a lot of attention to every detail of the beginning of the movie…even the little mundane details.

Washington is continuing to impress me with every movie he is in.  This is his third collaboration with Scott (following 1995’s Crimson Tide and 2004’s Man on Fire), and it is the second movie he has done this year (following Spike Lee’s Inside Man.)  He commands attention in every scene he is in.  Patton, his “love interest,” isn’t really much of one though.  While she does a good job in her role, her few brief scenes where they interact with one another don’t exactly inspire love sparks, since there really isn’t really any time for them.  That’s okay with me…why does the male hero always necessarily have to fall in love with the damsel in distress?

Déjà Vu may give you a little bit of déjà vu yourself in that it is similar to Scott’s awesome 1998 effort, Enemy of the State (both movies involve satellite technology to spy on people), but you won’t care because it will still suck you in.  If you are like me, it might make you want to see it over and over (Reggie has seen it three times already!)


Ratings System:


Catch this movie at the theater if you can...

Wait until it comes out on video...

Wait until it plays on HBO, Showtime, Starz, etc...

Demand your money back, even if you saw it for free!

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