Haven’t I Seen This Before?

by Alan Rapp on November 22, 2006

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Deja Vu
  • IMDB: link

deja-vu-posterA cop goes back in time to prevent the murder of a woman who will give birth to the future leader of the human race and lead them against the machines run by Skynet … um, I mean a woman who, well, isn’t really that important at all.  But she’s cute, so there’s that.  Yeah…

When a ferry explodes killing Naval officers and civilians, ATF agent Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) is called in on the case.  The discovery of a woman (Paula Patton)  killed moments before the explosion leads Carlin on the path of a terrorist (James Caviezel), but even if he succeeds he can’t save the girl.  Or can he?

A new top secret military project (headed up by Val Kilmer and Adam Goldberg) allows a team to look back exactly 100 hours into the past to discover the events that led to Clarie’s death and the identity of the terrorist.  Doug joins the team to find the identity of the killer, but also begins to wonder if it might not be possible to journey through time and chance the past.

The premise, by writers Bill Marsilii and Terry Rossio (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest) is an interesting one, but not exactly original.  Also the pacing of the film leaves much to be desired.

You have to wait through half of the film before the time device is presented and explained, and another quarter of the film’s length before the time travel actually occurs (though it does appear prominently in the trailer).  I’m all for foreplay, but if 3/4 of your film is set-up, your climax is anti-climatic and you’ve got a problem.

The film rushes through the final act of the film at full speed to make sure the audience doesn’t have a second to question some rather fuzzy science and a collection of strange moments.  And the stalker-esk love story element tagged on to appeal to female viewers comes off as more creepy that feel-good.

The performances are fine, and Tony Scott actually pulls back a little from his usual style, making a film with less of his trademark look, although some remains, than his last few features.  Whether that’s good or bad depends on how you view Scott’s work (which I usually enjoy, as you can tell from this review).

It’s not The Terminator, it’s not 12 Monkeys, but at least it’s not Timecop.  It’s too long, not nearly as smart as it should be, and lacks a scientific basis for it’s look at time travel and an understanding and acknowledgement of the issues of paradox.  A nice rental, but probably not worth the trip to the theater, unless you have an ache for some Denzel.

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