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Déjà Vu – Review

27 Dec

The film world is a much quieter place without Tony Scott. It was really upsetting to me this past year when I heard of his suicide. He was an action film maker who did more than make derivative movies. He invented a kinetic style that made the world the action was taking place in hyperrealistic.  With camera work that jolted the viewer all over the place to the highly saturated cinematography, you knew you were watching a Tony Scott movie without even needing to look at the credits. With films like True Romance and Man on FireDéjà Vu is certainly not his best, and I doubt if this is the movie that comes to people’s minds when they talk about Scott’s filmography.

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After a ferry explodes in New Orleans on Mardi Gras, ATF Agent Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) is brought in to investigate. He proves himself as a worthy investigator and is recruited by FBI Agent Paul Pryzwarra (Val Kilmer) to join a special task force involved with this investigation. “Special” is an understatement, since this crew has technology that is able to bend time and space and look back into the past on a very specific delay. This ability leads them to look into the life of Claire Kuchever (Paula Patton) who was found dead near the area of the ferry explosion. What Carlin and the agents find by looking at Claire’s past is a terrorist (Jim Caviezel), whose targeted her to unwillingly assist him, unless Carlin can somehow travel to the past and save Claire, thereby saving everyone on the ferry.

What separates this from a lot of other more derivative action films is the gimmick of time travel. If this was about Agent Carlin and the investigation about the ferry and the terrorist who committed the crime, this would be a completely forgettable and unremarkable movie. The time travel aspect, and the technology behind it only serve to make the film a little bit more interesting than it could have been. Unfortunately, the movie is almost overblown with dialogue trying to explain the technology, but it isn’t very interesting. When the actually action involving the machine is put to use, it isn’t all that exciting, save for a few moments. Being a film that’s over two hours, the element of seeing through and traveling through time is a missed opportunity.

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There isn’t even a whole lot of action in this movie to keep me occupied. Like I said, there is a lot of talking in this movie, and a good portion of it is technical mumbo jumbo.  There is a pretty cool car chase in the movie that includes the bending of time, which is an example of how the gimmick of the movie can be put to good use. The other scenes of action are brief, but exciting. Still, there isn’t enough excitement to keep me fully entertained or on the edge of my seat, which is odd for a Tony Scott movie. Let me just touch on the element of time one more time, no pun intended. It really bothered me how it’s used here when it could’ve been so much better. Time travel is really cool and fun, despite each movie being totally illogical in its own way, but Déjà Vu takes the cake for being the simplest and most uninteresting.

The visuals still have that cool Tony Scott style that I’ve come to really enjoy about his movies. Everything is wonderfully over saturated and the camera work is so frenetic at times that it feels almost like a video game. That still doesn’t make the movie as good as it could be. Style over substance, in my opinion, can be passable as long as the movie knows that it isn’t shooting to be anything other than a stylistic roller coaster. This movie is not one of those. We are supposed to be completely involved with the weak characters and believe the dull plot device of time travel, all while enjoying the cool style. It just doesn’t work like that.

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Déjà Vu is one of Tony Scott’s weakest entries to his filmography. While it seems like there is certain potential for this to be a legit sci-fi action thriller, it really doesn’t live up to the standards that it creates. Instead, this movie is going to be forgettable and never make it onto anyone’s future list of action classics. I can’t even say it’s a fun way to spend two hours, since the plot is so thick with dialogue that only twists for brain for no reason. Too much talking and not enough action makes Déjà Vu a bland attempt at a genre blending action film.

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