Deja Vu (2006)
Deja Vu (2006)

Genre: Sci-Fi Thriller Running Time: 2 hrs. 6 min.

Release Date: November 22nd, 2006 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Tony Scott Actors: Denzel Washington, Paula Patton, Val Kilmer, Jim Caviezel, Adam Goldberg, Erika Alexander, Donna Scott, Elle Fanning

 


 

A

s with most films involving time travel, rules and specifications have to be developed early on. As long as the film stays within those boundaries, the audience can remain – at least within the suspension of disbelief – oriented or on the same page. But, oftentimes, such films break their own definitions of time travel somewhere along the course, and by the end of it, viewers will be completely bewildered. While “Déjà Vu” certainly has its faults when subjected to the routine over-analyzation of critics (or perceptive moviegoers), it manages to hold interest, conjure up scenes of astonishing action, and acceptably resolve, for the most part, sensibly intact.

ATF agent Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) is called in to investigate a terrorist bombing of a New Orleans ferry. He’s recruited by Agent Pryzwarra (Val Kilmer) specifically to view satellite footage of a murder victim, Claire Kuchever (Paula Patton), who is mysteriously linked to the attack and may be the key to solving the case. As Carlin watches footage from four days prior to the explosion, he uncovers a mind-blowing manner in which to interfere with events from the past – and possibly save hundreds of lives, including Claire’s.

Perhaps the most compelling attribute of “Déjà Vu” is its presentation for defining the space-time continuum. As director Tony Scott mentioned in a recent interview, he wanted the film to be interpreted as “science-fact” as opposed to science-fiction, in that the explanations are so close to what has been scientifically experimented with, the premise shouldn’t appear so preposterously farfetched. Of course, it might just be easier to assume it’s all scientific jargon. While pictures like “Back to the Future” show that time is a single line that can be manipulated along a point, thereby changing future events, “Déjà Vu” follows the theory that there are several timelines all in coexistence, and that they never intersect. One scientist attempts to explain this to Carlin by drawing a picture of a single line that branches off into several possible futures. But the irony is that her theory directly conflicts with what actually happens onscreen.

Despite laying out its rules on time travel (oddly toward the middle of the film), the notions suggested require a complete eradication of all pre-existing ideas viewers might have about the subject. Assuming anything about this project’s guidelines based on other movies will ultimately lead to confusion. And, while most time travel pieces are set in futuristic environments – making it easier for audiences to accept the fictitious world and the fantastical circumstances – “Déjà Vu” opts for a present day setting, which will surely throw viewers for a loop.

If one can get past the dubious technical details of the setup, the acting should take care of the rest of the entertainment. Denzel is once again a delight to watch (having previously worked with Scott on “Man on Fire” and “Crimson Tide”), as is the somewhat flamboyant Val Kilmer. In an unexpected turn, Jim Caviezel plays the antagonist, which is an extreme opposite from his memorable role as Jesus Christ (in “The Passion of the Christ”) two years earlier. And relative newcomer Paula Patton also delivers a commendable performance, adding some warmth, humanity, and tangibility to the outlandish plot. Exceptional action scenes are characters of their own, adding considerable excitement to what could have been more sci-fi curiosity than adventure – highlighted here by a destructive chase sequence involving a Hummer driving the wrong way down a highway, all while Doug watches and attempts to manipulate both the present and the past. If it weren’t for the sticky time travel conundrums, “Déjà Vu” could be appreciated for the high-octane thriller it really wanted to be.

– Mike Massie

  • 7/10