Monday, January 08, 2007

Deja Vu (2006)

Too clever by a third. This, the latest Bruckheimer/Scott product, is a reasonably compelling tale undone by its overindulgence of its supernatural elements. As long as it sticks to its (admittedly loony) premise wherein an intrepid band of investigators and techno-geeks, led by Denzel Washington as his most steadfastly authoritative in the face of the unbelieveable, use a super-secret Wayback Space Camera to scan the past and catch a terrorist/murderer, it's really quite a good time. The screenplay by Bill Marsilii and Terry Rossio has a lot of fun with the parallels between three-days-prior and now, with the most exciting and inventive scene being a car chase spanning both time windows, and Tony Scott uses his natural tendencies towards sensory overload for good instead of evil this time around, tamping down the ferret-on-crack editing and camerawork just enough so that we can make out what's happening onscreen while pushing the story quick enough that we don't ask questions. There's a goodly amount of humor, too, and the food-for-thought crowd can have fun with the idea that Denzel and Co. are analogous to a typical moviegoing crowd, destined to watch the lives and acts of others without being able to intervene in a meaningful way. It's a shame, then, that the minute Denzel changes that by using himself as a time-tripping guinea pig in order to save a woman caught in the crossfire (so to speak), the film falls apart. I can believe a lot of things in films. I can, with enough silly pseudo-scientific explanation, believe in a secret Wayback Space Camera. I cannot believe, however, that the timeline in this film makes any sense at all. There are aspects of the plot (i.e. Denzel's fingerprints showing up in a place where they feasibly shouldn't) that are so obviously temporal paradoxes that they border on retarded. It's like Marsilii and Rossio lost track of their own premise. There's suspension of disbelief and there's outright cheating, and the last half-hour of Deja Vu is bloated with the latter. In other words: This movie would be great if it weren't for the fucking time travel. Also: Is Jim Caviezel's puzzling dedication to essaying creepy loners a self-inflicted punishment for daring to play Jesus or what?

Grade: C+


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