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Deja Vu (DVD)

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Caffeinated Clint
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Clint is the creator, editor and maintainer of Moviehole.

If you like your time-travel movies, you’ll like this one too. You have seen it all before – or have you? – but it’ll still keep you in the game until the final quarter.


Denzel Washington, Jim Caviezel, Paula Patton, Val Kilmer, Matt Craven, Adam Goldberg, Elden Henson, Bruce Greenwood, Erika Alexander, Elle Fanning

I didn’t need to experience the trailer for Denzel Washington’s newie to know that it intrigued me about as much as interning under a Mix amitosis specialist. And I don’t need to see the film any more than once – though, funnily enough, it does feel cacophonously familiar – to know that my initial assumption wasn’t far off the mark.

I don’t know where. I don’t know when. I don’t know in what form. I just know I’ve seen “Déjà vu” before.

Here’s what I remember: Denzel Washington as an ATF agent, investigating a tragic act of terrorism that killed a boatload of innocent New Orleans residents. Gets recruited by an off-the-book government troupe that has invented a time-travelling machine (of sorts). Determined to save the people – in particular, one woman (Paula Patton) whose murder he has been especially fixated on solving – the lone gun volunteers to be the first human to use the time-travelling machine, and fix the past. Hmmm. Something about this…. But, I don’t remember Denzel being in it….. and, I don’t think it was a ferry…. But there was a time-travelling machine like that…and, well, I dunno.

Does it ring a bell to you? Is it “Timecop”? Is it “Memento”? Is it “Frequency” – nah, surely it’s not “Frequency”; after all why would Jim Caviezel, who plays the villain in this thing, do two films that are so similar? – or is it simply a ‘best bits’ of other time-travel films trying to pass itself off as something fresh and imaginative. Hard to say. What is easy to admit is that the script for this wannabe mindroot is a smug bastard of a blueprint. It may be pieced well together, it may even have some good dialogue, but it sure does think it’s the valedictorian of science-fiction thrillers. In all frankness, it ain’t that smart. In fact, once you join-the-dots – which, for me, happened pretty early on – you’ve got nothing to do but to watch the film play out. (It’s in instances like this, that I wish there were an ‘off’ button for my brain).

At the same time, filmmaker Tony Scott (who worked with Washington on “Crimson Tide” and “Man on Fire”) and producer Jerry Bruckheimer know how to hold an audiences attention – even if it isn’t with their storytelling skills. Here, they keep us captivated with some snazzy visuals, good use of music, a snappy pace, and, of course, an always-engaging lead man.

Washington mightn’t have a lot to chew on here, but the film is all the more better because he’s in it. He gives the role his everything – and even if you’ve guessed the outcome of the movie by the third act, keeps you interested, almost to the tune of the audience questioning whether they actually have got the right plot outcome in their head. I think he makes you believe it’s a better movie – and therefore, there must be more to the plot – than it is.

Same with the supporting cast, though unlike Washington, they’ve got nothing to do. Folks like Val Kilmer, Jim Caviezel, Bruce Greenwood, Adam Goldberg, Elden Henson and Matt Craven seem to have been cast for “why not?” reasons. Obviously, Scott’s worked with them all before –or knows he can pull in favours from elsewhere – so has cast names in even the most inconsequential of parts. It’s sad to see actors wasted like this – just to make a film look prettier.

If you like your time-travel movies, you’ll like this one too. You have seen it all before – or have you? – but it’ll still keep you in the game until the final quarter.

Extras on the DVD include a bunch of deleted scenes (some good stuff in here, stuff that might’ve helped the movie, but for pacing reasons had to be removed) and a couple of good featurettes – including one on how they blew the bejesus out of that Ferry.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clint Morris

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