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Overall Rating

Awesome: 17.19%
Worth A Look: 23.44%
Average: 21.88%
Pretty Bad32.81%
Total Crap: 4.69%

5 reviews, 34 user ratings

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Deja Vu (2006)
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by Erik Childress

"Even Yogi Berra Makes More Sense"
2 stars

Finally, a film that is here to explain to us bewildered folk the truths about the “phenomenon known as déjà vu.” Hidden away like the Lost Ark after a great flood, millions of people have been walking around for years hitting upon coincidences that suggest an astounding familiarity that they couldn’t possibly have experienced before through a work of fiction, another’s anecdote or merely having visited the same place before. What is the great mystery that has haunted us for so long and have driven Tony Scott and Jerry Bruckheimer to break the silence on this guarded enigma riddle? Tell us, oh wise ones and don’t make us beg to end this suffering. The answer is time travel? Really? Hey, guess what? I think I’ve seen that before.

As American Naval personnel and their smiling families board a New Orleans ferry, that little girl’s lost doll proves that ominous doings are afoot. BOOM! Nearly 550 people are lost in an explosion that throws their charred bodies overboard. ATF agent, Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) is on the case, taking over for the befuddled law officers in the Big Easy. Through surveillance footage he spots a suspect with a front-row seat for the carnage, but a second mystery washes up on shore. The deceased body of Claire Kuchever (Paula Patton) has a percentage of burns, but Doug also deduces that the stains around her lips suggest she’s not celebrating Mardi Gras early, but was actually duct taped. Solve this crime and they’ll be led to the ferry boat bandit.

Also on scene that day is the FBI’s Agent Pryzwarra (Val Kilmer) who offers Doug assistance by introducing him to a special project the agency has designed. It seems technology has allowed a combination of spy satellites and city-placed cameras to create a linear loop of footage for law enforcement to virtually look at any location from any angle necessary. The catch is they can only look four days earlier and by only moving forward in time. If they miss what they’re looking for, it’s gone. For all the tax dollars that have gone into post-9/11 supervision, this would appear to be a regression from Tivo and Doug ain’t buying it. Fed up with all the jargon-heavy expository from FBI associate, Denny (Adam Goldberg) just as we are, Doug frustratingly demands the truth and discovers the bureau (who can’t pick up a phone to the CIA when they need to) have created a way to look into the past. The rules are still the same and, surprisingly, they are less concerned with disrupting the space-time continuum by sending anything into the past then they are with the giant blackouts the system creates when attempting it.

The first hour has all the makings of a diverting techno-thriller; a twist on Scott’s own Enemy of the State complete with a somewhat ludicrous, but certainly original chase scene when Doug literally chases down the past. Only when it’s revealed to be little more than just another variation of the time travel mash-up, it heads south quickly – less of the plausible consistencies and more of just an obscenely lame lack of inspiration. Much is made of the Cyberdyne device they’ve crafted to pass objects back in time. Having not called in Seth Brundle to teach their high-tech computers about the flesh, only dead material can make it back. ONLY! ONLY! ONLY! Which means you can expect someone to shove their body into the space just big enough for a six foot man in his underpants to give it a shot. That’s after one successful test though where the paradoxes begin and a crucial hint from the future may have been the cause of one person’s actual murder before the ferry explosion.

Coming full circle with that explosion (and the numerous traffic accidents Doug causes in that chase scene), it’s important that the filmmakers shift the focus from the 543 people who blew up to the hot black woman who would put on more clothes if she knew the future was watching. Almost taking the route suggesting what Brian DePalma would have done with the material, Denzel’s Doug takes on an almost obsessive voyeurism at first. Who wouldn’t while the beautiful Paula Patton tries on different outfits and takes forever to get into the shower? But he’s not the only one obsessing. What possessed anyone to shift the timeline so Doug begins caring more about this woman than the ferry crispers? Worse yet are that the clues dropped in the first act are so protrudely obvious that it takes any element of shock out of the final one except for how pedestrian it gets.

Even if Scott and writers Bill Marsilli & Terry Rossio had no way to reinvent the time travel continuum, they missed a larger opportunity staring them right in the face. Noted as being the first big-league film production in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina (and several shots remind us of the decimation), they have that crossed with a governmental storyline infringing on citizen privacy in the name of keeping them safe from terrorism. Like FIMA, Kilmer’s unit is always four days late. But what do we make from the Jim chief suspect in the bombing (Jim Caviezel)? Once under questioning he hints at an even greater conspiracy. “You think you know what's coming? You don't have a clue,” he says leading astute filmgoers to think the story is about to tip the scales to Kilmer or Bruce Greenwood’s agency head as part of some greater injustice towards the American people. Instead, it’s the mere psychotic ramblings of someone who has probably spent a little too much time trying to communicate with his dead father through a short-wave radio.

Irony and satire is well beyond Déjà vu’s reach, especially when in the end the title is the most misleading element of all. Unless you buy into the film’s trailers which has managed to give away the final scene in order to justify it’s title. This whole project is so ass backwards that it’s actually the exact opposite of the “phenomenon.” If you’re going forward in time and then go back, neither you nor the “past you” is going to experience Déjà vu. The “past you” is having no impression of being there before because the “past you” knows for a fact they have been there before and are creating clues that the “present you” would have no idea of having placed. Washington and Scott have been gold in the past with both Crimson Tide and Man on Fire to their credit, but this time out their title can’t reflect what it promises to deliver other than exposing the phenomenon of cinematic monotony; an event more frequent than you could possibly believe.

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originally posted: 11/22/06 16:02:24
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User Comments

5/20/18 Anne a waste-after less than an hour I stopped watching it 2 stars
12/29/17 morris campbell silly sci -fi fun 4 stars
2/26/14 Uohllsry A's games aren't available to almost any object can become used to write a little self-cons 3 stars
7/04/09 MP Bartley Scott tones his ADD to good effect. A snappy, enjoyable thriller. 4 stars
2/13/09 R.W. Welch Cop-out ending. Otherwise okay. 3 stars
7/09/08 Totir Alexandru I really enjoyed this movie. It has an interesting plot with a lil bit of SciFi. 4 stars
6/28/08 John Millheim Great action, exciting, Denzel did a great job 5 stars
5/12/08 Lilac Interesting and thought-provoking, love watching Denzel, many holes in logic. 4 stars
1/05/08 mr.mike CSI+Time Tunnel+Back to the Future+Magnificent Obsession+........ 4 stars
7/22/07 ben dover brilliant loved it 5 stars
7/18/07 JP Alexander A terrorist act and no muslim in sight, yea right. 1 stars
7/08/07 Steve Newman Cant believe the comments - most of them are wrong!!!! Film was awesome 5 stars
6/28/07 gr117 Meh... 3 stars
6/27/07 Matt Idiotic story but Denzel helps to make it watchable fun 3 stars
5/15/07 TreeTiger Unbelievably unbelievable! A freshly made hot poo from the Denzel school of egotripping... 1 stars
4/25/07 action movie fan exciting sci/fi crime thriller-not overdirected as scott,s past films have been 4 stars
2/14/07 Barb Smith awesome, engaging, kept me on the edge of my seat! 5 stars
2/05/07 William Goss Once you swallow the story, surprisingly entertaining and fresh actioner. Denzel grounds it 4 stars
1/09/07 rocky Once I decided to just go with the preposterous storyline, it kicked ass 4 stars
1/03/07 james great movies: Denzel is the best actor I've seen in years 5 stars
12/23/06 eric appleby I've never seen a man go to so much effort to sleep with someone. Achingly awful. 2 stars
12/21/06 Bitchflaps An entertaining synthesis of admittedly familiar ideas, you care about the characters. 4 stars
12/19/06 Quigley Denzel and Caviezel were the best part of this over-Hollywood-ized sci-fi fable. 3 stars
12/18/06 kes what was this 2 stars
12/16/06 Ole Man Bourbon Pretty entertaining--the outrageous plot gimmicks held my attention. 3 stars
12/14/06 liseyann This was an excellent movie: well-scripted and phenomenal acting 5 stars
12/11/06 Randy Light Great movie. The idea was purely original and I am a stupid asshole that no one likes. 5 stars
12/06/06 Doris Marsilii Awesome script 5 stars
12/03/06 matt this movie was just awesome i loved every minute 5 stars
11/28/06 marion loved it 5 stars
11/27/06 mlg It was entertaining 3 stars
11/25/06 malcolm denzel great as usual, pretty preposterous story 3 stars
11/23/06 Tiffany Losco Movie was really good. I like Denzel 5 stars
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  DVD: 24-Apr-2007



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