Friday, March 16, 2007

Deja Vu


I should start this piece as any reviews should have: spoiler warning!!!! It has many pieces of the story we know in theaters as Déjà Vu. But even without telling parts of the story I believe any review can be a spoiler because there is nothing like going in fresh and without expectation of how the film will go.

As defined by the American Heritage Dictionary, Déjà vu means: An impression of having seen or experienced something before. From that meaning I thought the movie would about a psychic; observing from the trailer that it didn’t have all the hallmarks of a sci-fi movie – futuristic suits, spaceships, a time machine.

It turned out that déjà vu was not limited to feeling at all but there was an actual time machine.

I always have a headache in these kinds of stories. Instead of the linear narrative there is a loop; which often ends in a way I am don’t always agree with. Time travel, though fictionalized in many sci-fi stories, actually has many school of thoughts.

Anyway, I digress. . .

Denzel Washington plays ATF agent Doug Carlin who is investigating a boat bombing. From when the boat exploded to maybe about 25 percent of the film, you have a typical terrorist/bombing/multi-agency investigation. You have doughnuts, coffee, and men flashing badges all over the place.

Citing deadlines and such, Doug accepts the invitation of Agent Andrew Pryzwarra (Val Kilmer) in a special task force. This task force was using “archived surveillance footage” the bombed area that were 4 days old. Doug was recruited to provide direction and instinct in an investigation that had neither direction nor leads.

Agent Doug must have been reading my mind (yah if that was possible), and found that such comprehensive surveillance of an area was too unbelievable (It was that bad; a gadget so high tech that it doesn’t fit the story). Something was amiss. He tested his instincts by flashing an infrared laser into the footage: and to his surprise the “footage” reacted. It was a time machine. The rest of the story went on as expected with any time machine story.

But there was debate as to whether Doug should even try, not the least of which was the machine was never tried on a live human being. From Doug, to Andrew, to the time machine’s tech support, there was a debate on the nature of time. There is the linear point of view, there is the multi-universe one (popularized in Sliders); then there is one where time is compared to gravity - point being is that it cannot be changed.

To conclude the time traveling Doug ended up dead; with the original one meeting the girl that the time traveling one saved (aaaarrrgh my head is acting up again). If all goes well with the girl and the original Doug, what situation then will necessitate the time travel. I asked this same question over a Star trek discussion board questioning the final episode of Voyager and the answer I got was the multi-universe theory. Plausible… acceptable yes… but that still leaves me with the feeling that the hero I started with is really dead, and with this being another universe, I am seeing another hero.

I wish these kinds of stories stick to only one school of thought. Anyway, Denzel’s a cool guy so here are three stars.