Archive for July 2nd, 2008


Movies on DVD Review: Deja Vu



I think I’ve seen this “time travel” thing before…


Starring Denzel Washington, Val Kilmer, Jim Caviezel, Bruce Greenwood, and Paula Patton. Directed by Tony Scott.


Tony Scott took a stab at the sci-noir genre (science fiction film noir) and delivered this little ditty called, “Déjà Vu.” In post-Katrina New Orleans, a ferry blows up killing 543 people aboard it. ATF agent Doug Carlin (Washington) is called in to investigate. When the body of a beautiful woman (Paula Patton) is found washed-up Carlin finds that she’s a key connection to the bombing. Agent Paul Pryzwarra (Kilmer) brings Carlin into a top secret project whereby they can view and hear four days in the past within a radius of a few miles. It’s there that they find the villain who must be stopped: Carroll Oerstadt (Caviezel).


What works, as well as what’s cool about this movie, are the concepts. The “four day window into the past” is presented as a time stream that cannot be rewound. You can look in/around a certain area but you can’t go back; everything is in the “real time” of that dimension. Also, since it is “time,” you can observe anything. Anything. The problem with that (as shown in the movie as well) is if you “hone-in” on one individual, it’s possible that you may lose whatever else you were trying to pay attention to.


And this “time stream” has limitations. First off, the amount of energy to create it is monumental. Doing anything but observing causes massive power shortages. Secondly, it’s within a fixed area; in this movie, downtown/waterfront New Orleans. This also leads to a really cool scene where Denzel takes a Humvee and a mobile unit to track the bad guy and uses a helmet device that “broadcasts” the past while Denzel is driving in the present.


My main problem with this film is that it felt like a thriller movie trapped inside an action movie. Several times there were blank stares, like the characters were thinking one thing, or the characters being watched KNEW they were being watched. Unfortunately, Scott treats the material like, “Don’t think about this too much. Unplug your brain and enjoy the ride.”


And that’s probably the best way to watch this film. Nevermind the questions you may have; the characters in the movie ask questions OUT LOUD that are NEVER answered. I could throw out a few I have, like how is it that Carlin causes destruction and possible deaths to regular citizens, and is never fined or chewed-out for it? But in action/adventure movies no one stays around to clean up cars destroyed, houses blown to bits, people shot and killed, etc. It’s like Nicholas Angel from “Hot Fuzz,” telling Danny that police work isn’t like actual movies in the fact that it involves “more paperwork.”


As far as acting goes, most did a pretty good job. Denzel is Denzel, wise-cracking police detective. Paula Patton does a little more than just being the object/key to what’s going on, but not much. Val Kilmer is a plot device. Adam Goldberg is the technology guy who believes in Washington. And Bruce Greenwood is just cashing a paycheck.


My grade: B-