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D?j? Vu, teeters on the edge of clich
by Laura Sweeney on Dec 02, 2006
Déjà Vu, teeters on the edge of cliché.
First of all, I must admit that when I saw the trailers for Déjà vu, I
rolled my eyes and crossed it off my list, but Casino Royale was sold
out over Thanksgiving weekend, so I figured Denzel was reason enough to
give it a shot. Within the first five minutes of the movie, my concern
grew. Set in New Orleans, a boat filled with Navy families, adorable
little kids with dolls included, explodes into oblivion before our very
eyes. Three questions flashed through my mind: 1. Does Jerry
Bruckheimer have to kill little kids in movies to get our attention? 2.
Exactly how much did they offer Denzel to get him to do this? 3. And
when your first scene is that big, where can you go from there?
Most artsy critics would tear this movie to shreds. And although this
film didn’t change my life, I believe that for it’s detective thriller
genre, it was certainly entertaining enough to hold my interest for two
hours. The story line focused in instinctual ATF officer Doug Carlin
(Denzel Washington) and his investigation of the murder of Claire
Kuchever, a beautiful woman whose body is found after the bombing. Mysteriously
enough her time of death is determined to be an hour before the
explosion and traces of duct tape are found around her mouth. Carlin
comes to the conclusion that if they solve her murder, they solve the
cause of the explosion.
Then, of course, the FBI gets involved. FBI Agent Pryzwarra, (Val
Kilmer), invites Carlin to use their new high tech toy named, for no
apparent reason, “Snow White.” It’s a satellite surveillance tool which
replays footage from anywhere, but here’s the catch: it has a four day
delay and you can only watch any given thing once, no rewinding, no
fast forwarding, a sort of limited Tivo version of google earth. The
FBI looks to Carlin who decides to follow Claire’s life leading up to
the day of the explosion. Mostly because he’s positive her murder has a
strong connection to the crime, it doesn’t hurt, of course, that she’s
gorgeous and spends plenty of time alone in her underwear. And thus
begins this high tech Rear Window into the past. As the clock moves
closer to the day of the explosion, married to the job Carlin becomes
more and more attached to Claire. As he and his team embark on a
mission to uncover evidence, they can’t help but meddle with the events
of the past.
Déjà vu is reminiscent of Minority Report and Matrix Reloaded but what
sets it apart as well as makes it harder to achieve is its attempt to
set a fantasy plot in a realistic setting. But what Tony Scott does
deliver on is suspense and action. There is a fantastic chase scene in
which Carlin must use special goggles to extend Snow White’s range.
This scene more than any other scene in the movie uses the time element
conceit to amp up what would have otherwise been a typical chase scene.
And then there’s the heartbreaking love story between a detective and
his victim, who he meets four days too late. All of this is rendered more believable by the high caliber actors.
Bill Marsilii and Terry Rosio’s script, though flawed, does a nice job
of keeping us in the reality of the movie. Everything that is set up is
satisfyingly wrapped up by the end. Denzel Washington is as good as
ever making up for plot jumps as the detached ATF officer. Also, while
I knew Jim Cavaziel was going to be in this movie he was unrecognizable
as Carroll Oerstadt, the psychotic patriot gone bad. It was a nice
change to see Val Kilmer play a stock detective part as Agent
Pryzwarra. (Excuse me though,why did they name him agent Pryzwarra?)
Paula Patton maintains a
grounded connection to reality as Claire Kuchever. Also, a consistent
performance turned in by Adam Goldberg (Denny) and some really nice
reaction moments from Erika Alexander as emotional FBI agent Shanti.
Unfortunately, Elden Henson (Gunners) is forgettable as the run of the
mill techie guy.But overall the movie holds up. If you get some popcorn
and a soda and you’re in the mood for a thriller, you won’t be
disappointed. Déjà Vu teeters on the edge of cliché but luckily does
not fall in. The very last moment of the movie Carlin and Claire find
themselves in a car together and the same song comes on the radio as in
a previous scene, and we’re waiting for Denzel to say “it” and
thinking “oh crap, it’s going to be cheesy when he does,” and it’s
going to ruin the whole movie and thank god, he bites his tongue. Déjà
Vu, lucky for us, still holds some surprises.
April 8, 2020