General Release 20067
126 minutes approx
Doug Carlin -
Claire Kuchever -
Paul Pryzwarra -
Carroll Oerstadt -
Alexander Denny -
Directed by -
Written by -
Bill Marsilii & Terry Rossio
A massive explosion rips apart a ferry jammed with sailors newly arrived in New Orleans for Mardi Gras in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Doug Carlin is an investigator with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who finds himself with two cases that day. The other is a woman who was washed up downriver two hours before the explosion, but made to look like a victim. When an FBI agent introduces Doug to a new technology that allows them to view any events in the area four days before the current event, he chooses to follow the dead girl, falling in love with her along the way. The trail leads to the bomber, but that's not enough for Doug. If you can see into the past, why can't you go there? But if you go there, can you change what has already happened?
A film by Tony Scott and Jerry Bruckheimer immediately conjures up certain images. There will be action, there will be explosions, there will be more gloss than a a Dulux paint factory, all under clear blue skies with filter-assisted sunsets. Testosterone will rule. Well, the gloss has gone, scraped away by a commercial film-making team that knows grainy, jittery visuals are the order of the day in the wake of THE BOURNE IDENTITY, but everything else is present and correct. The opening is a huge explosion, there is a car chase (though, in deference to the film's science fiction concepts it's a chase with a car in the past), shoot outs and a final race to avert the events that have already happened. The skies are mainly blue and all the principal characters are men. Even the female murder victim gets little to do that moves the story along, or even would explain why Doug would fall in love with her beyond looking good in the shower. The female scientist's role is restricted to complaining about the shower scene and trying to explain some of the scientific concepts involved.
Ah yes, the science. The idea so using wormholes to look at the past is pretty much accepted as a theory, nut the details are far too much for a film like this. The scenes in which the science crew try to explain the subtleties to the audience via Doug are a model of how to do this sort of thing in this sort of film. Have two or more characters shout at each other loudly, throw in some scientific terms and a couple of line diagrams and it will sound like you know what you're talking about without actually explaining anything. The more sci-fi literate amongst the audience will be well-versed in the determinism (you can't change what's already happened because it's already happened) versus alternate timeline (explained in identical fashion to BACK TO THE FUTURE PART 2), but there is a lot of mileage in seeing which theory is going to win through. In retrospect, it was always going to end one way.
All the time travel gubbins, though, is merely an excuse to hang the action to and the fact that the film is so entertaining is thanks to Tony Scott, who knows exactly how an action juggernaut like this is supposed to function, and a likeable cast headed by the always dependable Denzel Washington. His lovestruck investigator is initially full of his own supposed charm and occasionally an annoying smartass, but that soon gets jettisoned in favour of the all action hero type. Val Kilmer gets the thankless role of the FBI man whose only job is to introduce him to the science guys, whilst Adam Goldberg takes the lead scientist and turns him from the geeky mad scientist type he was written as into something a bit more rounded and believable, and certainly a lot more entertaining.
But in the final analysis, DEJA VU isn't about examining the science fiction. It is about a story that moves quickly enough to keep the plot holes from swallowing anyone up and providing two hours of classy entertainment. This it does with aplomb.
For a more in-depth examination of using wormholes as cameras on the past may we suggest the Arthur C Clarke novel The Light of Other Days.Top
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