Artist: Movie ReviewTitle: Déjà Vu (Film)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Edwardo Jackson
If Scorsese has DiCaprio and Soderbergh has Clooney, then Scott has Washington. Having cranked out blockbuster thriller upon blockbuster
thriller in Crimson Tide andMan on Fire, here comes the latest must-see Tony Scott company players, pulse-pumping production
featuring yet another Denzel lone-wolf character: Déjà Vu.
After an act of terrorism kills 543 people on Fat Tuesday in a post-Katrina New Orleans, ATF agent Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) comes across some evidence that doesn’t just seem out of place but out of TIME. Several intuitive questions and solid policework later, Carlin is introduced to a super secret squad of techies who can monitor a continuous stream into the past from any angle (“no rewind”) exactly four days and six hours from their present moment. With this powerful technology at their disposal, Carlin’s observations cause him to fall in love with one of the bombing victims: a gorgeous, lonely woman named Claire Kutchever (Paula Patton). Having less than four days to stop the bombing from happening again (this time before his very eyes), Carlin doggedly tries to save her life by changing the past, shadowing an elusive killer before he can strike-again. Sort of.
A thriller in four dimensions, Déjà Vu is a lot to wrap your head
around but is ultimately worth it. Taking almost an hour to complete its elaborate mise en scene to explain all the techie, wonky aspects in its wormhole-to-the-past premise, Scott’s Déjà Vu is like his Enemy of the State on steroids, including more gadgets than a Radio Shack and a wild, simultaneously past-present “trippy” time warping chase on the Crescent City Bridge. It’s trademark Scott: burnished yellows, tech-savvy jump cuts, and explosions that show he can still blow stuff up with the best of them. Although the technology at times threatens to overwhelm the movie (Denzel’s Carlin is frequently barking at Val Kilmer and Adam Goldberg’s geek squad to speak in plain English), Scott wisely hones in on the engaging, high concept script by Bill Marsili & Terry Rossio (proving he can write for more than Captain Jack Sparrow) that explores the line between patriotism and terrorism as well as fate versus existentialism. The script is very smart-almost too smart for its own good-with a great ending that feels wholly earned.
Paula Patton, unknown to us just five months ago, gives a rock solid rendition of Claire, an ordinary New Orleanian with extraordinary beauty, who gets the feeling that she’s being watched (go with that feeling, Claire). And she’s well worth watching. Jim Caviezel is scary good as a war veteran terrorist suspect, while Kilmer plays straight man to Goldberg’s typically snarky, comic relief geek. Washington gives the same nuanced, intense performance you come to expect from himparticularly in a Tony Scott SUV of a film-that the less said, the better.
As one of the first major films shot in Louisiana after Hurricane
Katrina, Scott’s Déjà Vu simply and effectively uses the affected
neighborhoods and general psyche of New Orleans’ citizens in its visual and intellectual DNA. It’s an entertainment to be sure, but one that posits powerful hypotheticals: What would you do if you could look four days in the past? What would you change and would you risk the consequences of changing the future? Tony and Denzel have done it again. Tony and Denzel have done it again.
Edwardo Jackson (ReelReviewz@aol.com) is an author and LA-based screenwriter, visit his website at www.edwardojackson.com