Sunday, January 6, 2008

Deja Vu (2006)

"For all of my career, I've been trying to catch people after they do something horrible. For once in my life, I'd like to catch somebody before they do something horrible, all right?"
- Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington)

"This is tripping!"
- Doug Carlin, driving in the present while wearing goggles that show the past

When a ferry explodes in New Orleans and hundreds are killed in an act of terrorism, ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) agent Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) is called in to investigate. His sharp, quick skills attract the attention of the FBI, who are also investigating, and Carlin is invited to join a special FBI unit which includes Agent Paul Pryzwarra (Val Kilmer, looking a bit like his own version of the latter-day Bill Shatner). The technique they are using is to view a once-only amalgamation of satellite data, always four days behind the present moment – and somehow track the killers before they strike again. The technique that is the focal point of the movie is similar to the concept of the film Minority Report, and another example of our obsessive voyeuristic tendencies.

(Major Spoilers Alert) After an overlong opening montage that makes the explosion and investigation into a kind of extended dialogue-free music video, Washington gets to start speaking, and the movie immediately improves – though not so much to overcome the ridiculousness of the concept. Except, the ridiculous concept is a lie – they are actually folding time to look back into the past!

Carlin focuses the viewing on Claire Kuchever (Paula Patton), a young woman who was killed before the explosion and made to look like a bomb victim.

The juxtapostion of past and present creates some tense scenes, such as when Carlin, armed with a mobile tracking device, pursues the killer in the past, while dealing with a menacing present as well. When the killer is caught, the FBI closes down the investigation despite the protests of Carlin, who still has 7 hours (in the past) to save Claire. With no other alternative, the team agrees to try to transport Doug back into the past. His goal is to save Claire and to stop the bomb. Rating: 3 of 4 reviewed 9 Nov 2007

"Déjà Vu impresses with both the complexity of its storyline and its willingness to allow things to develop at their own pace without interjecting a lot of needless action scenes into the early proceedings to keep viewers attentive."
- James Berardinelli (ReelViews)

"Deja Vu gets mighty close to goofy from time to time, but Washington pulls it all back together -- sometimes, it seems, just by being there."
- Liz Braun (Jam! Movies)

"If you can surrender to the film's crazy convictions, it's a popcorn-munching wild ride worth taking."
- Peter Canavese (Groucho Reviews)

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