So, what does it take for a movie to get my attention? It’s an assortment of factors, some of them would be the following: a story that appears intriguing, a director attached that has a solid record of hits, a star or group of stars that I’m a fan of, or merely be a sequel to a movie that I enjoyed. Many times it only takes one of those items to get me interested in a movie, but sometimes it helps to have more than one factor working to a movie’s advantage. This is the case of the action-packed thrill ride “Deja Vu” that stars Denzel Washington (one of my favorite actors), is directed by Tony Scott (director of “Man on Fire”), and is produced by uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer (whose movies I thoroughly enjoy 9 times out of 10). With all of those factors together in one movie, this was definitely one film that I wanted to see from the moment I saw the first trailer.
“Deja Vu” focuses on federal agent Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) being called in to recover evidence from a deadly ferry explosion that rocked New Orleans. While working the case, Doug is pulled aside to aide in a top-secret government experiment dealing with time-shifting surveillance, basically they can watch events of the past as if it were in the present. The team behind the experiment is hoping that this revolutionary technology will allow them to see the crime before it happened in hopes of catching the person(s) responsible for the heinous act. But can this technology assist in changing the past or merely watching it from the sidelines?
Here is a movie that caught me completely by surprise. I was fairly confident that I was going to be in for an enjoyable action-packed thrill ride, based solely on the facts that Jerry Bruckheimer was producing (a man known for delivering the best action movies in Hollywood) and Tony Scott was directing (whose use of quick cuts and groundbreaking camera work has created some of the most thrilling sequences put to film). Sure this movie delivered explosive action and intensity, but what I didn’t expect was the use of so much science fiction with the concept of bending time and even some time travel. Surprisingly, the sci-fi aspect actually worked for the film, which couldn’t have been easy to execute due to time-themed science fiction being rather difficult to pull off in a way that makes sense, and doesn’t create plot holes within the story. But the writers of this movie managed to craft a story that was filled with plenty of action, intriguing drama, and some sci-fi thrown in to mix things up a little bit without allowing the story to become bloated and clunky. Another aspect of this movie that surprised me was Tony Scott’s seemingly more reserved direction. After filming both “Man on Fire” and “Domino” with such frantic camera work, extremely fast cuts and stylistic color manipulation, it was somewhat relaxing to watch a much more straightforward approach to movie making from this talented director.
Denzel Washington was superb as always in his role as federal agent Doug Carlin. He handles the action and drama with great ease, and even the science fiction aspect seemed like second nature to him, which is a genre he’s had very little experience with (his last foray into sci-fi was the lackluster film “Virtuosity”). The main supporting cast comprised of Val Kilmer and Jim Caviezel provided interesting, three-dimensional characters from a script that seemed to have them painted very thinly, based on their roles and screen time, but these two talented actors made the most of what they were given. It was nice to see Val Kilmer back on the big screen, he’s a gifted actor that it seems like we don’t see much from anymore (though that may have something to do with his apparent weight gain, a career ender for some in Hollywood). The remainder of the cast were all solid, but weremade up of fairly run-of-the-mill filler characters that were used mostly for exposition.
“Deja Vu” is a surprisingly original, entertaining thril-ride that grabs you from the opening sequence and never lets go. This is a movie that is a definite must-see, and one that is fun to watch time and again.
“Deja Vu” is rated PG-13 for violence, language, and brief nudity/sensuality.
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