Deja Vu is a high-concept thriller featuring strong science fiction elements and an excellent cast. It’s definitely not a masterpiece but it’s certainly worth watching. The story is quite interesting and the pacing is even better. This helps with a rather unusual running time of exactly two hours. This would’ve been a much better movie if they cut it to 90 minutes. I think we’re all familiar with the term Deja Vu which describes a feeling that something already happened. This is just your primal brain misfiring and the thing didn’t actually happen. However, I can attest that it certainly feels that way.
In the movie Deja Vu, we will be following an investigation into a horrific bombing that will lead one man to question everything he knows about reality. That man is Doug Carlin, played by Denzel Washington. I don’t want to reveal too much about the story but let’s just say it’s not exactly about that bombing incident. It will start sprawling into all kinds of different directions and exploring many different issues. Something that should come as no surprise considering that the director is the late Tony Scott (Top Gun, Man on Fire). Deja Vu is perhaps most similar to his nineties masterpiece Enemy of the State.
One of the things the movie does best is to offer plausible explanations for surreal situations and concepts. This is not one of those cheap movies where shit just happens. It’s a carefully thought-out and constructed thriller that happens to dabble with fuck, I’ve almost said it. I need to focus more or else I’m going to spoil this whole thing for you. On that note, I think that you should just dive into this movie without any further reading. Deja Vu is also one of those who-done-it movies but on a much grander scale and laced with believable science fiction concepts. And when I say believable I mean that in the broadest sense of the word. I mean, we all know this is a movie, right?
A new day is starting in the city of New Orleans and it’s looking like a usual one. The river is busy as people are boarding a huge ferry and looking to get to work on time. However, this is not going to be a usual day in New Orleans. Just as the ferry leaves port a huge explosion destroys it completely. More than 500 people die in an instant and ATF Special Agent Doug Carlin quickly discovers this was no accident. Someone deliberately killed those people but Doug’s quest to find out who and why will be a strange and dangerous one…
I just love how this movie opens with a huge explosion, basically, the main event in the story, and then carefully starts to explain everything surrounding it. The plot unfolds at a very deliberate pace, allowing the viewer to digest the complex aspects of some of the concepts used. The performances were great and apart from our main man Denzel, I would also like to mention Adam Goldberg. As you would expect from such a big movie, the production values were excellent. However, it is the camerawork that I like the most. Tony manages to create tension and action from seemingly static scenes.
Despite all this brainy stuff, you can stay on the surface and watch this as just another blockbuster you’ll forget in a couple of weeks. There’s nothing wrong with that. Deja Vu is highly entertaining offering a plot that twists and turns every twenty minutes. The viewer can make his own theories and they will be either confirmed or denied during that glorious finale. On that note, if you’re looking for movies like Deja Vu, I recommend you continue with Scott’s movies like The Taking of Pelham 123 and Spy Game.
Director: Tony Scott
Writers: Bill Marsilii, Terry Rossio
Cast: Denzel Washington, Paula Patton, Jim Caviezel, Val Kilmer, Adam Goldberg, Bruce Greenwood
Fun Facts: A month before the official start of the production, Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans. This brought into question whether the movie is going to be made at all or should they look for another filming location. However, three months after Katrina, the production returns to New Orleans and announces it will film Deju Vu there helping the local economy recover. Just like The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans did.