by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Denzel Washington as DOUG CARLIN
Paula Patton as CLAIRE KUCHEVER
Val Kilmer as AGENT ANDREW PRYZWARRA
James Caviezel as CARROLL OERSTADT
Adam Goldberg as DENNY
Studio: Touchstone Pictures
Directed by: Tony Scott
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In general, I like Tony Scott. And in general, I like Denzel Washington. Fortunately, they tend to make a decent film together, as we saw with “Crimson Tide” and “Man on Fire.” Lately, Scott’s been getting too deep in the flashy MTV directing style, but at least he pulled back a bit in his latest film “Deja Vu.”
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The movie follows Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington), an ATF agent investigating an explosion that obliterates a New Orleans ferryboat and kills hundreds of people. Carlin is approached by Andrew Pryzwarra (Val Kilmer), a federal agent who claims to have a special way to examine the crime scene.
Carlin takes the bait, and he’s introduced to a secret experiment that allows Pryzwarra and his crew to look into the past by four and a half days. While searching for clues in the past, Carlin learns that Claire Kuchever (Paula Patton), one of the victims, was murdered by the bomber first before destroying the ferry. He realizes that this key to the past might help him save not just Claire, but everyone on the ferry.
“Deja Vu” has a somewhat difficult plot to explain, and the twists and turns in it are equally hard to grasp if you’re not paying attention. The best part of “Deja Vu” on DVD is that you can pull the movie back to watch the explanation scenes over again. The problem with this movie when I saw it in the theaters was that I dozed off at the worst possible time – right when they were explaining how this time rift thing works. This isn’t an indictment of the movie, but more a result of the fact I have two small kids that can drain your energy during the rest of the day.
But my short nap during the movie in theaters happened right when all my questions would have been answered. Imagine you fell asleep in “The Matrix” right after Neo swallows the red pill. I was able to piece together much of the time travel explanation – mainly from a long history of enjoying time travel stories – but I couldn’t just pull the film back to repeat the explanation.
As I suspected after my theatrical screening, there were some wrinkles in their time-travel explanation. I forgive them for this, considering time travel is extremely hard to pull off in a film set in contemporary time. But if you can suspend your disbelief a little higher than normal, you’ll be able to get past these two or three temporal inconsistencies.
“Deja Vu” falls outside of Tony Scott’s normal faire, so I can forgive some relatively amateurish plot holes. Not being a strong science fiction director, Scott is embarking on new territory, and I would expect these kinds of wrinkles from a newbie to the genre.
At times, Scott does fall into his old-fashioned action movie mode, turning the movie from its more cerebral focus to a massive shoot-em-up flick. In particular, there’s a car chase that looks like it was plucked from Michael Bay’s “The Island” instead of being comfortable in an otherwise contemplative film.
This is Washington’s third starring role in a Tony Scott film, and they prove that they definitely work well together. Maybe if Denzel had taken a role in Scott’s cinematic travesty “Domino,” it would have been a better flick.
The DVD has embedded behind-the-scenes footage throughout the film, including the ferry explosions, ferry stunts, New Orleans locale and the split-time car chase. These in-feature embedded bonus elements are always fun to watch, especially after seeing the movie for the first time. Other special features include deleted and extended scenes.
Even for time travel enthusiasts who’ll see story holes big enough to drive the ferry through, this can be a fun movie. Just don’t think too hard about it.
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Widescreen (2.35:1) – Enhanced for 16x9 televisions. French and Spanish language tracks. French and Spanish subtitles. English subtitles for the hearing impaired.