Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

The last time we saw director Tony Scott and superstar actor Denzel Washington together, they crafted a little ditty for us known as ‘Man on Fire’, which was one of the most ridiculous but nonetheless, most entertaining movies I’d seen back in 20-04.  They’ve teamed up again this time to bring us ‘Deja Vu’, a film that is twice as ludicrous as ‘Man on Fire’ but just as entertaining to boot.

If you know Tony Scott’s style, you know how he likes to amp up the visuals.  ‘Deja Vu’ starts in post Katrina New Orleans with a group of sailors boarding a ferry boat for a huge party.  The whole sequence is shot in Scott’s signature style of montage, saturated colors, quick cuts and overbearing music cluing us in that something bad is about to happen.  Something bad does happen when the ferry explodes killing over 500 people.  ATF agent Doug Carlin (Washington) is on the scene to investigate and starts sifting through clues, letting the idiot higher ups know that this was no accidental boiler explosion.  Things start to get a little fishy when the body of a beautiful woman floats ashore, burnt over most of her body as an obvious victim of the explosion.  However, her body is discovered a full two hours before the boat actually blows up.  This heightens agent Carlin’s suspicions causing him to start to dig a little bit deeper.

Enter FBI agent Pryzwarra (Val Kilmer) who enlists Carlin as part of his investigative team.  Seems Pryzwarra, along with this braniac doctor Denny (Adam Goldberg) has this new satellite technology which allows one to see what was happening exactly four days in the past, at any point in the city, in real time.  You got this?  For example,

say four days ago the postman ends up dead and I think you did it.  So using this new technology I can triangulate on your signal from four days in the past and follow you around until you actually do kill him and I can record it.  I can’t change it, but I can see you do it.  If I miss you do it because I’m peeping in on your sexy neighbor, I’m screwed because that point in time has past and I can’t rewind to try to follow you again.  Dig?

Agent Carlin knows this dead woman (Paula Patton) is the key to who blew up the ferry and so they peep in on her life until the guy that kills her shows himself and they can solve the mystery.  Weird thing is it seems this woman can tell that someone is watching her.  It’s not supposed to be that way, but it is.  Seems our guvment has accidentally invented a time machine of sorts and our intrepid agent is gonna use it to save this woman he’s kinda fallen in love with and, oh yeah, stop the ferry from blowing up if he can.

If your one of those funny types of people who like your movies to like, make sense, then ‘Deja Vu’ may not be the film for you.  You see there are movies in which characters do things because it’s what a person would do, and then there are movies that characters do stuff because the script requires it.  This is ‘Deja Vu’.  There are situations in which it seems that Washington’s character would be well served to just pick up a phone and call for some backup, but if he did that, then we wouldn’t have that cool scene where the barn explodes.  Or we wouldn’t have that great scene with the car chase down the freeway and so on.  We won’t even get into the abject silliness surrounding the so called technology behind the ‘time machine’.  Well, maybe a little.  Apparently there is a range of a few miles with this thing, so were following our bad guy but he is driving out or our limited range.  Fortunately we have a portable time machine Hummer they hooked up that can chase this imaginary signal. This is actually one of the better scenes in the movie as Denzel is involved in a virtual car chase with a guy driving down the freeway four days ago.  The question is, since these satellites have to be pointed at a certain spot with limited range, ain’t it convenient that they happened to pointed at the exact spot that the ferry blew up in little old New Orleans, Louisiana?  Then there are all of these time loopholes that the movie jumps through way too often and, again, most if it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. 

Now forget all of that.  If your one of those people who actually go to the movies for the sole purpose of being entertained, then ‘Deja Vu’ is most seriously the movie for you.  This is a movie made by people who know how to craft big time brainless action pictures.  The action is brisk, the camera is in constant motion, there are car crashes shootouts and suspense up the wazoo.  The movie slows down only to spew out some ridiculous time travel b.s. and they say it this mumbo jumbo with conviction that you more than ready to believe it’s true, even though you don’t what the hell they’re talking about.  Denzel Washington is a movie star, plain and simple.  He knows how to carry a scene, he knows what a role calls far and he knows how to play to the camera and he has director who knows these things just as well as he does.  I don’t think a less experienced, though equally talented director / actor tandem, say Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan could have pulled this together in such an entertaining fashion.  They’re young, they’d be asking questions, trying to make the story make sense.  Scott and Washington know the story is simply a portal to the action, so forget that and let’s go have some fun. And lets find a really pretty girl to stick in there, say like, Paula Patton who is a REALLY pretty girl (woman.  Sorry).

‘Deja Vu’ is one most entertaining movies I’ve seen this year, despite the fact that it makes no damn sense.  Watch it with a friend or a girlfriend or whatever, and listen as you go home to the space time continuum discussions that will inevitably sound like this: Hey, but if they... Well then... No, that would mean... But I don’t get...  And when did Val Kilmer get fat?

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