Deja Vu
Director: Tony Scott (Top Gun, True Romance, Crimson Tide, Man on Fire)
Writers: Bill Marsilii, Terry Rossio
Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer
Starring: Denzel Washington, Val Kilmer, Paula Patton, Jim Caviezel, Adam Goldberg
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 128 min
read my spoiler disclaimer

by Andrew James
     There are two ways to watch this movie: with suspension of disbelief or without. In the former, the movie will be a pure joy to watch; a mystery of sorts with clues that must be paid close attention to and a technological wonder that excites your deepest thoughts of "what if?" If you choose the latter, you'll sit through two hours of total preposterousness and be upset as you watch the minutes tick by on your wristwatch thinking to yourself, "Have I seen this before?"

      Washington plays ATF agent Doug Carlin. After a terrorist attack on a ferry boat in New Orleans that kills hundreds of seamen and civilians, Carlin discovers some strange clues that could aid in the capture of the culprit(s). Before his investigation gets too far, there are some strange occurrances and finally Carlin is informed by the FBI (Kilmer) that they have the ability to look 4 days and 6 hours into the past via an extremely high tech satellite surveillance system. Washington soon realizes that there is a lot more to this technology than he's at first led to believe.

      Personally, I was able to just go with it and had an absolute blast in front of the screen. Riveted to my seat with anticipation as to what happens next and trying to figure out how to solve certain problems is half the fun. The first 40 minutes or so of the movie is just that: a series of strange happenings with vague and oddly impossible clues as to what the hell is going on. After this, we're treated to a bit more of a sci-fi, tech action-thriller that really works well. Again, as long as you just go with it. Trying to over analyze everything and pick it apart in the car ride home may bring about skepticism and the realization that there are huge holes all over this picture.

      Denzel is pretty much great in everything he does, so we know what to expect here as well. Kilmer, in one of his more "normal" roles, adds little that couldn't be given by anyone else. Still, it's nice to see a familiar face. Goldberg and Elden Henson add a bit of philosophic and comedic relief while relative new-comer (I've never seen her before) Paula Patton brings the female presence to the table. And let me say, she is one gorgeous female presence. I'd be more than interested in seeing her in a deeper role with more screen time to see if she can truly act or if she's only a pretty face (even for a dead girl) in an action thriller.

      The trailer below is a bit misleading. This movie has very little to do with actual deja vu or any paranormal inferences. It's more about technology and possibilities than anything else. The exploration of how time paradoxes affect the real world and those tampering with it have been explored countless times before in an equal number of films, but this doesn't make the experience any less fun or interesting and brimming with possibilities. This includes maybe not the best, but certainly the most innovative car chase I've ever seen that works surprisingly and amazingly well and I can't wait to try out the inevitable video game exploration of the same idea.

      All in all what we've got here is a fairly intelligent screenplay that probes the idea of time travel and delving into the past to resolve the present. Those looking for action will get their fair share later in the movie. Those looking for some intellectual, thought-provoking ideas about how the space time continuum might actually be manipulated and used to solve crimes (like Minority Report in reverse) will find just that. By the way, some of the technology presented earlier in the film is theoretically possible although not yet technologically possible. So that may help to suspend your disbelief for a while.

      Mush all this together with Tony Scott's signature style and fun factor and everything about this movie screams a great ride. Refreshingly devoid of any allegorical rhetoric about present day terrorism and the current administration, it was nice to get back to what film is for me: escapism. So I'm happy to report I was lost in another world with a big thumbs up for Deja Vu. It's been a while since I've seen a good action thriller that is actually smart, interesting and fun all at the same time. Most impressed was I by the great car chase in the middle of the movie... wait... didn't I already mention that?

Press "PLAY" to watch the trailer

Links: - full cast and crew
Official Site

- a great book I read (twice) using exactly the same technology as in the film. Highly recommend.
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