Well as my father would say, “Hokey smokes!” If you are in the mood for a believable, realistic film — save your money. However, if you want to suspend disbelief definitely check out Déjà Vu.
Denzel Washington stars as Doug Carlin, an ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms) agent, who is investigating the bombing of a ferryboat in New Orleans. While trying to put together the pieces of the catastrophic puzzle, he meets FBI Agent Pryzwarra (Val Kilmer). Pryzwarra introduces him to a new, secret branch of the government (like Men in Black, but cooler). They have created a program that uses satellite technology to look back in time by four-and-a-half day intervals. They are hoping to use this to find the terrorist responsible for the bombing, and ask Carlin to join the team. In the meantime, the body of a young woman, Claire Kuchever (Paula Patton) washes ashore. Her corpse is made to look like a victim of the explosion, but the official time of death was hours before. Carlin wonders if going back in time is possible, so he can save her.
Some of the highlights of the film are the interactions between the people on the secret crew. While Pryzwarra is the boss, the resident expert is Denny (Adam Goldberg). Gunnars (Elden Henson) and Shanti (Erika Alexander) join him. They provide witty banter and humanize the time-folding-on-itself process.
There are some interesting twists and turns in the plot and many “convenient” moments when ignoring logic seemed to work out. Thankfully, the romance was mostly in undertones because if there had been a token sex scene I think I may have walked out.
Washington’s character is rather formulaic. He is a workaholic loner who is viewed as an expert in his field, despite the unconventional methods he uses at times. His partner is killed and is driven to find the villain until he becomes obsessed with the dead woman. (Very Maltese Falcon meets Vertigo.) However, despite all of the clichés, Carlin is likeable enough to spend two hours with and believe in.
It was interesting to see Val Kilmer (who isn’t aging as gracefully as one would think) again, but his character doesn’t have much depth or room to grow. It took me about twenty minutes to realize Jim Caviezel was playing the villain, Caroll Oerstadt. Caviezel was chilling in the role and believable.
Tony Scott directed Washington in two previously well-reviewed films: Crimson Tide and Man on Fire. The two strike gold again with Déjà Vu. Co-screenwriter Terry Rossio is no newbie to blockbusters, either. Some of his works include Aladdin, Shrek, the two recent Zorro movies and the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer just never seems to disappoint me (aside from Pearl Harbor). It felt from time to time like I was in the pilot for CSI: New Orleans.
It was also touching to see the city on film post-Katrina. The filmmakers tried to give the audience a real feel for the city, which was interesting because New Orleans is such a great, moody place to put on film.
Honestly, I went in with very low expectations, but overall this was a completely satisfying viewing experience. The acting was solid, the story was interesting (and it takes a lot to get me interested in sci-fi films), and I was definitely on the edge of my seat through most of it. Déjà Vu is a popcorn movie for sure, but with a subtle touch of class.
DVD Highlights for the week of November 28, 2006:
A Star is Born (Special Edition): In the 1976 version of this Hollywood classic, Barbra Streisand stars as the struggling young singer Esther Hoffman, who falls for rock star burn-out Kris Kristofferson. As her fame begins to rise, his begins to fall.
Superman Returns: Brandon Routh stars as Superman and Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane in the most recent Superman flick. The superhero returns to Earth after a five-year absence and learns that the world has moved on without him.
The Ant Bully: An angry young boy is shrunk to the size of an ant after taking his frustration out on the local insect population. Voices include Julia Roberts, Nicolas Cage and Meryl Streep.
(Also on DVD: Clerks II; Now You Know; Van Wilder: Two Disc Van Gone Wilder Edition; Angel Rodriguez; Where Angels Fear to Tread; Monster in a Box; H6: Diary of a Serial Killer; Distortion; Maxx; Girls From Nowolipki; North Korea: A Day in the Life; 12:01; Molly: An American Girl on the Home Front; The Cheetah Girls 2; Striking Range; Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone; Jailbait; Backlash; Coalition; The Ellen DeGeneres Show: DVD-licious; Dane Cook: Vicious Circle; Kong: Return to the Jungle; Power Rangers Mystic Force: Volume 2 – Legendary Catastros; Power Rangers Mystic Force: Volume 3 – Fire Heart; and Marshall University: Ashes to Glory.)