“Déjà-vu” Review

deja_vuDéjà-vu [2006] – ★★★★

“What if you had to tell someone the most important thing in the world, but you knew they’d never believe you?” (Doug Carlin)

In 2006, Tony Scott directed a time-travel thriller Déjà-vu, starring Denzel Washington and Val Kilmer, presenting a story of A.T.F. agent Doug Carlin who starts to investigate the bombing of a ferry in New Orleans, but ends up embarking on a romantic time-travel mission to save the lives of many. Coming from film director known for True Romance (1993) and Enemy of the State (1998), Déjà-vu plays all its cards right, and, despite perhaps failing to convince the audience of the plot’s technological advances, the film still feels very “complete”, fun to watch and provides just the right amount of suspense to keep one intrigued until the very end.

There is a lot to admire in Déjà-vu, and the fact that so many film critics dismiss the movie is unfair. The film captures our attention from the very beginning when it unfolds the event of a ferry bombing, and the director presents the suspenseful atmosphere of the imminent danger with an admirable skill. There are beautiful, slow-moving shots of happy couples on the ferry before the disaster. One thing which is particularly nice about Déjà-vu, though, and this also the thing that makes it stand out is its villain – the terrorist responsible for the bombing of the ferry, Carroll Oerstadt (Jim Caviezel). He is presented as a man to be truly feared, being so cold-blooded and mysterious, and Caviezel makes him determined and believable.   

deja-vu

The biggest criticism of this film is the science behind the “time-travel” technology employed in the movie. In this story, a team of investigators use a special program “Snow White” to see into the past (four days prior to the bombing) to identify and eventually stop the bomber. Through this technology, Doug Carlin (Washington) spies on a woman who he thinks is the key to solving the case. Sure, the science is ridiculous as the team uses a number of satellites and the system does not allow to rewind, etc., but knowing that it is only a film made for one’s entertainment, surely all this could be easily forgiven. On the contrary, the time-travel premise makes the movie somewhat thought-provoking because there are “free-will/destiny” discussions. In fact, Doug (Washington) plants clues in the past to help him move further with his puzzle when he “returns”, all making even Back to the Future (1985) a bit less exciting in comparison.

Denzel Washington always performs this role of “an authoritative official under-stress” with brilliance, and Robert Zemeckis’s Flight (2012) is the main example of it. In Déjà-vu, Washington is equally compelling, being so sympathetic, stoic, romantic: a trustworthy hero. His chemistry with his beautiful co-star Paula Patton (Claire Kuchever) is electrifying, and he also plays off well against Val Kilmer (Top Gun (1986)) and Matt Craven (Crimson Tide (1995)).

Despite its “technical” flaws, Déjà-vu is a very entertaining, emotionally-charged film. It is both romantic and action-driven, with a thought-provoking ending and a convincing performance by Denzel Washington. What more could one want by way of entertainment? 

6 thoughts on ““Déjà-vu” Review”

  1. This is one of my dads favorite films and it has the “Shawshank effect”, everytime it’s on TV he HAS to watch it, much like when Shawshank Redemption is on TV a lot of people HAVE to put it on. Love it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agree! Much like Shawshank Deja-Vu appeals if only because of its philosophical, existential message. Both films are inspirational in their own ways. And if you add to that good action and a nice story, I don’t know what more could be asked from a film…

      Liked by 1 person

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