Deja Vu

Deja Vu

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Seen it all before...

Jan 3, 2007
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Very Good

  • Bang For The Buck

Pros:One or two decent bits...

Cons:... suspension of belief falls to bits quite early on, everything is overdone

The Bottom Line: Unless you're extremely forgiving or have a legendary ability to suspend belief, give this one a miss.


Déjà vu is a sci-fi thriller that brings back memories of Minority Report with its somewhat similar premise. When a terrorist attack results in hundreds of casualties, AFT Officer Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) finds himself enlisted by a specialist branch who can actually monitor events as they happened, a set amount of time ago. This assignment is complicated greatly when he develops more than a professional interest in one of the victims - Claire Kuchever (Paula Patton - Hitch). He is convinced that she holds the key to the mystery, but also wants to save her – though she is already dead – or sin’t she? Aided and hindered in fairly equal measure by Agent Pryzwarra (Val Kilmer) and his team, Carlin must overcome many death-defying and impossible scenarios if he is to succeed.

The beginning of the film just seems completely over-produced somehow – the music is good and it’s fitting, the camerawork is good… but there’s just too much of it. I’ll try to explain that as it probably didn’t make much sense… there are cinematic sweeps and close-ups by the dozen, so much so that they don’t have the desired affect of adding drama to the scene, and the music seems almost to be telling the audience what to feel instead of adding to the mood by suggesting it. I guess that’s still not going to make much sense, so I’ll just say this – think of any Michael Bay film you’ve seen. There, that should do it.

The whole concept of time travel, of course, requires the audience to suspend their belief even more than they normally would for a movie. There are so many paradoxes raised by the basic concept that all sorts of theories have had to pop up to explain them – quantum physics and basically the same thing under a variety of guises. The movies that succeed in pulling off the trick are those that keep the time travel element to a bare minimum and concentrate on the characters, give you characters you can care about, are very intelligently written, or are very tongue-in-cheek. Sadly, none of those really apply to Déjà vu. It takes itself very seriously, and yet after the initial overplayed intro and tricky subject matter, just as I was starting to enjoy the film they throw in the most preposterous car chase scene in cinema history. To me at least (not to my wife, who is perhaps more forgiving of these things!) this completely destroyed any credibility the film had left. Any interest I had in the film ended right there.

The problem with that was that once I’d given up on caring about what was going on or how the story would unfold, I found that many silly little errors became apparent. For instance, someone setting fire to something drenched in paraffin would surely not actually light it with the match still in his hand, which a fraction of a second later would be over the intense flame, would he? Surely he would throw the match from a safe distance. Also there is the case of Patton’s acting – fine portrayals of fear and suffering, yes, but when tape is wrenched from someone’s mouth, would they really not flinch at all? What about our brave officer for whom taking a bullet and losing a couple of pints of blood doesn’t even slightly slow him down?

I can’t say that there weren’t good aspects of the film, though. I’ve enjoyed Adam Goldberg’s performances in pretty much everything I’ve seen him in, and this is no exception – he’s also one of the few characters who gets any really good lines. There are some good action sequences and special effects. The plot isn’t nearly as clever as it thinks it is though, and Washington, fine actor though he is, really didn’t seem right in his role. For some reason apart from the star names (including James Caviezel and Bruce Greenwood), this actually looked and felt more like a made-for-TV movie than a Hollywood blockbuster. Not quite sure why, exactly, but it did.

Overall then, I really wouldn’t recommend Déjà vu unless you know you’re more forgiving of plot flaws than I am (or you know you will have the benefit of watching it after a couple of drinks!). In a funny way I feel I’m being unfairly critical of the film overall, and without that stupid car chase I probably would have reasonably liked it, so I’m going to give it the dignity of 3 stars (I very nearly gave it 2, but somehow that doesn’t seem right). Having recently rewatched and still loved the first two seasons of Blake’s Seven, I really feel like I have no right to criticise any film for bad acting, effects, or plot, but Blake’s Seven does have the advantage of Avon, Villar, and one of the smallest effects budget in history! Even ignoring that, however, this idea has been done before - and much better. Pity, but predictable. Almost like having deja vu... (sorry, couldn't resist that awful pun!)


Other Information

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and terror, disturbing images and some sensuality. (rated 12A in the UK)
Runtime: 128 min (it really lagged near the end)

Not one of the better days of Tony Scott (Director) or Jerry Bruckheimer (Producer)


Tony Scott in the early days… Top Gun



More my taste in sci-fi movies… Top Ten Science Fiction Films


Recommend this product? No


Movie Mood: Die-hard Fans Only
Viewing Method: Other
Film Completeness: Looked complete to me.
Worst Part of this Film: Script

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