Saturday, December 02, 2006

Been there, done that.

I usually try to avoid films produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. They're usually all flash & fury with no substance. But Deja Vu had a decent cast, an ok director (Tony Scott) and an interesting premise, so what the heck I went to the theater the other day and took a shot.


The movie opens with a ferry filled with Navy Crewmen and their families, enjoying the day of Mardis Gras, blown up by a terrorist. Over 500 people are killed and ATF agent Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) is brought in to investigate.

He's able to decipher the cause pretty quickly even though he's also sidetracked by a body of Claire Kuchever, a beautiful woman that's been burned to death and washed up on the shore.

Impressed with Carlin's skills the FBI (headed by an agent played by Val Kilmer) invites him to join up and use their "super secret" technology. It's a satellite that allows the viewer to look backwards in time to events that occurred 4 1/2 days ago.

This is a pretty neat scene with special effects that almost keep you from thinking what you're watching doesn't make a lick of sense. It especially goes loopy when Agent Carlin talks one of the technicians to send him back in time to stop the death of Claire ( who he's fallen in love with, while watching her, thanks to the super satellite) and oh yeah, those 500 bomb victims too.

Time travel stories can be very tricky to pull off. Especially when the script tries to come up with ways for you to buy it, but it really never works. If he travels back in time to stop her death why would he (in the future) ever want to travel back to prevent a death that never happens. Yeah, they try to make it plausible with the old diverging time line theory, but it comes across like grasping at straws.

I could almost forgive the time travel aspect, but what really got me while watching this was the whole deja-vu aspect. I'm not sure what the people, especially towards the end, were feeling was actually deja-vu. How could they remember, or feel something that never really happened?

Though the biggest hindrance of the film is a kind of deja-vu with the actors and their characters. Denzel's Agent Carlin is not unlike Detective Keith Frazier from
Inside Man or Det. John Hobbes in Fallen (both which are much better movies, IMO). He's not the only one though who seems as if he's just walking though. Val Kilmer and Bruce Greenwood are pretty bland (though to tell the truth, they don't get much to do) and Adam Goldberg plays his usual excitable, neurotic character.

It may sound as if I hated Deja Vu, which isn't the case (strong words like hate should only be used when discussing films starring Julia Roberts). The film looks good and the effects of the satellite is pretty cool and I really enjoyed the unusual chase scene that was separated by 4 1/2 days (I know that sounds confusing, but that's about the best way to describe it) but the story felt bland and the time travel aspect just didn't work for me.

So if I remember correctly, Deja Vu, gets a time traveling:

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