Tonight I went to see a screening of Deja Vu, which has been out in theaters since Thanksgsiving – I just never got a chance to see it until now. Directed by Tony Scott (Man on Fire, Top Gun) the film is a romantic murder mystery with a splash of science fiction, covered in a Jerry Bruckheimer wash. ATF Agent Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) is investigating the domestic terrorist attack on a New Orleans ferry, when something odd pops up: a body (Claire Kuchever, played by Paula Patton) washed up on shore before the incident, bearing the injuries sustained from the boat explosion. Figuring this to be his only lead, he soon gets pulled into a special surveillance unit, headed by Jack McCready (Bruce Greenwood) and FBI Agent Andrew Pryzwarra (Val Kilmer). There he meets the tech geeks (Adam Goldberg, Elden Henson, Erika Alexander), and he learns that they have a secret program whereby they can view – in realtime – events that took place 4-days and 6-hours ago. As they watch the events unfold in the Clarie’s life, they race to find out who killed here, and who instigated the terrorist attack.
There’s a time travel element to Deja Vu which was pretty cool, and it makes you think about the nature of fate, and timelines. The film has an odd sort of romantic element to it, since Carlin and Kuchever never meet, until the end of the film, but you definitely feel the connection. As it’s a Tony Scott/Jerry Bruchkeimer movie, you can expect plenty of action sequences, and there’s a very cool Humvee chase where Carlin is chasing the lead suspect (Jim Caviezel) – 4 days in the past – but he’s racing down a crowded freeway (sometimes on the wrong side of the street). Pretty inventive stuff!
The movie gets a little bogged down in technical discussions of space-time, wormholes, and the like, but I found it entertaining to watch Washington smile and nod as he had no idea what they were talking about. The movie was written by Bill Marsilii and Terry Russo, the latter of which had written the Pirates of the Caribbean flicks. It’s got a smart edge to it, and some good main character emotion, but it falls into the trap of a few cliched supporting characters which feels like a cheap “out” at times. The score by Harry Gregson-Williams focuses on the emotional elements of the movie, providing an almost romantic link between the two leads during the majority portion of the film where they don’t actually interact.
Deja Vu isn’t a great film by any means, and while it’s got some flaws, I found it entertaining enough – and has enough subtle clues buried in it – that it’s worth checking out at some point. You could probably wait for DVD, which will allow for multiple viewing so you can figure it all out.