Deja Vu

Movie Review by Dr Kuma

Starring: Denzel Washington, Paula Patton, Val Kilmer, Jim Caviezel
Director: Tony Scott

As we all know, deja vu is a term used when we think we’ve dreamt or prophesized an action before, a flash back in other words. In the wrong hands a movie dealing with this subject could have been a disaster but here, the director and actors bring real gravitas to an otherwise convoluted plot that in lesser hands would simply have fallen in on itself in its own pretentiousness. The opening of the film is really quite shocking. In the past movies like INDEPENDENCE DAY could show mass destruction on a vast scale by blaming it on the aliens and getting a whoop for the spectacle of it all from the popcorn crowd. Now any terrorist action or loss of life leaves a sour taste in the mouth and this film’s opening scenes can’t help but lead one to draw comparisons with 911, with burning bodies and destinies cut short in an instant of mindless terror. The crew must have felt very uncomfortable shooting these scenes as they are very believable.

Set in an atmospheric New Orleans post Katrina, the story goes that after an explosion on a ferry kills over 500 people, an ATF agent (the always dependable Denzel Washington) investigates the crime scene where he meets an FBI agent (Val Kilmer). Impressed with the ATF agent’s skills, the Fed invites him to join a team that has a new program that uses satellite technology to look backwards in time four and a half days to try to capture the terrorist (Jim Cavaziel). Meanwhile a young woman (Paula Patton) who was burned alive washes up on shore. Meant to look like part of the terrorist explosion, reports place the dead body as being washed up before the explosion. Using the latest technology to study the woman, the ATF agent determines that this is not satellite imagery but somehow is using a time warp.

From this point in the film, the movie moves from a crime film to a sci-fi time paradox film and by clever use of the back story and the famous “will time travel affect our future” scenario keeps us on the edges of our seats till the end.

Dr Kuma’s verdict: A clever and rewarding film, with a great twist ending.

5 out of 6 stars
DeJa VU… again…

As we all know, deja vu is a term used when we think we’ve dreamt or prophesized an action before, a flash back in other words. In the wrong hands a movie dealing with this subject could have been a disaster but here, the director and actors bring real gravitas to an otherwise convoluted plot that in lesser hands would simply have fallen in on itself in its own pretentiousness. The opening of the film is really quite shocking. In the past movies like INDEPENDENCE DAY could show mass destruction on a vast scale by blaming it on the aliens and getting a whoop for the spectacle of it all from the popcorn crowd. Now any terrorist action or loss of life leaves a sour taste in the mouth and this film’s opening scenes can’t help but lead one to draw comparisons with 911, with burning bodies and destinies cut short in an instant of mindless terror. The crew must have felt very uncomfortable shooting these scenes as they are very believable.

Set in an atmospheric New Orleans post Katrina, the story goes that after an explosion on a ferry kills over 500 people, an ATF agent (the always dependable Denzel Washington) investigates the crime scene where he meets an FBI agent (Val Kilmer). Impressed with the ATF agent’s skills, the Fed invites him to join a team that has a new program that uses satellite technology to look backwards in time four and a half days to try to capture the terrorist (Jim Cavaziel). Meanwhile a young woman (Paula Patton) who was burned alive washes up on shore. Meant to look like part of the terrorist explosion, reports place the dead body as being washed up before the explosion. Using the latest technology to study the woman, the ATF agent determines that this is not satellite imagery but somehow is using a time warp.

This unfortunately is when the film falls apart. Although there are some excellent set pieces including the wonderful idea of having a car in a chase, where the driver (Washington) has a mobile time travelling gadget fixed to his head, which enables him to follow the car along the route it travelled four days previously to find its final destination and the bad man’s hideout. However, whereas the roads may have been empty four days previously as it was at night time, he now tries to follow the car’s tracks in daylight rush hour which is great fun!).

The real shame is that after a fantastic first 50 or so minutes where the explanations regarding technology are so precise, you actually think they are based on fact (as in Scott’s previous tech noir ENEMY OF THE STATE), after Washington travels back the director reverts from a clever film – based on time travel – to a really dumb film about time travel, with a final 20 minutes that really lets it down. Perhaps Scott and the crew should travel back themselves, shorten the film by 20 minutes and leave the darker ending that they could have had rather than the silly ending they did. However dark they had made it they could still have retained the films final twist.

Regarding a piece of music used I the film, although I can say that Good Vibrations is the longest Beach Boys track – none of their tracks lasts as long as they make out here. Only Crosby Stills Nash and Young had an album called Deja vu! See the film and you’ll see what I mean, its one of the biggest gaffs I’ve ever seen and an insult to the audiences intelligence.

Ray Bradbury and Phillip K Dick fans will see ideas lifted lock stock and barrel, but to be honest, you’ll forget most of Deja vu by the time you get home. When or if you see it on TV again, if you sit through the first half you’ll remember liking it but if you catch it half way through you’ll say, “no I can’t have sat through this, I must have been mistaken” and switch it off.

Dr Kuma’s verdict: A clever and rewarding film for the first half, let down by a poor finale, which (and how many reviewers will use this?) you’ll have seen many times before in other films.

See what I did there! I’ll get my coat.

4 out of 6 stars

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