Deja Vu (2006)

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Drama / Mystery / Science Fiction / Thriller
Touchstone || PG13 - 126 minutes - $24.99 || April 24, 2007
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2007-04-15


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer(s): Bill Marsilii & Terry Rossio (written by)
Cast: Denzel Washington, Val Kilmer, Paula Patton, Bruce Greenwood, Adam Goldberg, James Caviezel


Theatrical Release Date: November 22, 2006


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Filmmakers' Commentary
  • 10 Featurettes
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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.::THE FILM::.

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Note: This Entire Section Contains Minor Spoilers!

Déjà Vu features the typical Jerry Bruckheimer/Tony Scott action sequences and add Denzel Washington, one would think they’ve struck gold once again. However, the film as a whole does not hit on all notes. When I first saw this in the theater, I was disappointed based, almost solely, on the illogical storyline. It falters less because of the actors and direction but more on the time travel elements that, upon closer inspection, makes no sense. Writers Bill Marsili and Terry Rossio (Pirates of the Caribbean) sprinkle in clues throughout the movie to events that will happen later, yet the explanation on what would happen if one could send someone back in time to change an event, an alternative timeline would then exist. Well, what about those clues in the current timeline?

Ignoring those elements, I actually found myself enjoying this film more at home on DVD than I did in the theater. Maybe it’s seeing it again and knowing what will happen and thus I could appreciate Denzel Washington’s performance, or it could be watching a film in the comfort of my living room. Either way, I think Déjà Vu is entertaining enough if one could ignore the plot points and the rehash of elements we’ve seen in so many other time travel flicks.

Outside what I mentioned, my opinion generally remains the same about the film as a whole, although I am bumping my rating up by a half a star and giving it a slight recommendation (although my tone would not be as harsh...).

Here’s my original review:

Hollywood’s been obsessed with time travel movies and though not many get released each year, the one’s that do make it through the process tend to borrow heavily from the classics of yesteryear. The latest is the Jerry Bruckheimer (aka Midis) produced spectacle, re-teaming director Tony Scott and Denzel Washington in Déjà Vu, a movie that wanted to be slick and clever when instead it’s disinteresting, soulless and clunky.

The shame of it is, even though movie trailers are made to bring out a movie’s highlights, with a name like Denzel Washington attached, you at least expect a solid film, not award worthy, mind you, but some solid entertainment. I will give the film credit for providing at least some entertainment value, but there’s little else here that I find great.

Washington stars as ATF Agent Doug Carlin, called in to investigate the bombing of a riverboat that killed over 500 people in New Orleans. The lead FBI agent on the case, named Pryzwarra (Kilmer; Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang) brings Carlin onboard to lend his expertise where, he’s told, using high tech cameras, combing through footage at the ferry and try to find the bomber.

Being the smart agent he is, Carlin proves there’s more to what they’re telling him. Pryzwarra reveals that the U.S. government accidentally stumbled onto a way to see into the future (4½ days to be exact), and this bombing was their first case. This leads into the obligatory senseless explanation of how this is done, this time using the same logic used in 1998’s Event Horizon (folding a piece of paper).

After just starting his investigation, the body of a young woman washes ashore with burns to her body, which Carlin believes was another casualty, but discovers she was found an hour before the explosion... The lovely woman, Claire Kuchever (Patton; Idlewild) is somehow involved and soon enough, Carlin falls in love with a woman he’s never met (alive anyway).

There’s not much in the way of character development outside of the standard lonely detective aspect, something overused and in this case when the plot fails to deliver, there’s little else to grab onto. As usual, Denzel Washington delivers another good performance perhaps turning lemons into lemonade, and because he’s naturally charming -- I caught his appearance on “The Tonight Show” promoting this --, any failure with his character lies with the director or writers.

clocks in at 126-minutes and with a vast majority of it making Washington either run around town or stand in front of giant computer screens. Don’t get me wrong, Washington has enough screen presence that he could read an encyclopedia and it’d still be fascinating, but this movie demonstrates it’s more about the sum of its parts than just one man and one cannot blame it on lack of talent either.

Val Kilmer, James Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ) and character actor Bruce Greenwood (Eight Below) all are certainly talented, yet when even the main character gets no development, the supporting cast suffers even more. You get the idea that Greenwood, as the agency’s head honcho, is the typical D.C. bureaucrap, but what’s Kilmer? Or Caviezel as the right-wing terrorist; I still don’t understand his motivation, of course, maybe that’s the point (i.e. rationalizing the actions of an irrational individual).

Tony Scott helms this sci-fi/action yarn and does away with his erratic style used for Man on Fire and Domino. Gone is the gritty picture and jerky editing motions replaced with relatively safe and straightforward storytelling. Although I liked Man on Fire, I like this move since the story already is already hard to follow (while watching, at least) and the fact it was obnoxious in Domino, a film which was also void of heart and soul, much like Déjà Vu. Scott’s films tend to be that way, though. Other than MoF, even the films I liked of his such as Crimson Tide or Enemy of the State, they’re not exactly movies you recount for their ingenuity (however, Enemy is interesting for its prognostication of Big Brother).

Déjà Vu isn’t necessarily a bad movie, more disappointingly executed than anything. Denzel Washington once again excels with these kinds of roles so you can expect to like him, but the rest of the movie doesn’t perform to the level of a ‘good’ film. I can only imagine this got the green light because of Jerry Bruckheimer because outside of the talent, the story itself has direct-to-video written all over it (hell, I could see Cuba Gooding Jr. headlining that version).

Overall, as I said, it’s not a good movie but some might find it entertaining enough as a time-filler. I expected more from this group of talent so it goes into the disappointing column in my book because one would hope that Tony Scott and company wouldn’t have to (heavily) borrow from time travel flicks that have come prior.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Bruckheimer and company tries something different in the presentation on this DVD. I’ll give them props for that but it’s also a slight nuisance.

Deleted and Extended Scenes (13:52) - The DVD features 5 deleted and 3 extended scenes for your enjoyment. With the run time already at 126-minutes, these were excised for good reason. Each has an optional commentary from director Tony Scott where he explains why they were cut (mostly pacing).

The following features come under the heading of “The Surveillance Window”:

Filmmakers’ Commentary - The only way to listen to the commentary is by selecting viewing the movie with the Surveillance Window “On”. This track features producer Jerry Bruckheimer, writer Bill Marsili and director Tony Scott. Their comments were recorded separately but given their voices are distinguishable enough; I had no trouble determining who was talking. The track itself isn’t the greatest I’ve heard from Tony Scott, but it is still interesting finding the various tid-bits about making the movie. Say what you will about Tony Scott not being as talented as his brother, Ridley Scott, they provide interesting tracks.

Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes (36:50) - You can view these via an index or while watching the movie. The featurettes are inserted into the film and the only way to get around them (if you only cared to listen to the commentary) is to fast forward. It’s a bit annoying but since they have a distinctive start and finish, it’s not hard to do.

As for the featurettes, there are 10 all together ranging in time from 2:27 to 5:12. They cover every element of making the movie including “The Ferry Explosion”, “Cameras of Déjà Vu”, “Stunts: Compound” and “Stunts: Ferry”. You get a glimpse at how Tony Scott makes his movies and comments from different cast and crewmembers on making the movie. As a whole, it’s not as expansive as Scott’s previous DVDs (like Man on Fire), but it does give you some info on what it took to make the film -- along the way, you get a decent amount of technical jargon for the rising filmmakers out there.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

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Presented in anamorphic widescreen, 2.35:1 ORA, Déjà Vu looks perfect as any current release should. Tony Scott’s usual style is present mixing in a darker overtone with still some science-fiction elements (not unlike Enemy of the State). The colors and overall levels look just fine and are more than satisfactory.

The only English audio option is a Dolby Digital 5.1 track which is suitable, but I will always prefer DTS when you have as many action sequences and explosions as this movie does. That said, crank up your system enough, and your windows will be shaking...



.::OVERALL::.

Déjà Vu might not be a great sci-fi action flick, but with the appeal of Denzel Washington, a suspension of disbelief and if you ignore the fact certain plot points have been seen in previous time travel movies, you’ll get some pleasure out of this.

The DVD isn't well packed with features but you still get a good amount to watch between deleted and extended scenes and the in-movie experience with the commentary and featurettes. Because it's a Jerry Bruckheimer production, I do wonder if there will be an unrated cut one day, like Enemy of the State or Remember the Titans. I can't recommend paying week one prices for this, but after a couple months, you should find this for under $10.