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Déjà Vu (9/10)

by Tony Medley

I’m a sucker for time warp movies. As readers of this column should know by now, my all time favorite is “Final Countdown” (1980). Since then they’ve come and they’ve gone. Some have been pretty good, some not so good.

Now, however, comes one that rivals “Final Countdown.” “Déjà Vu” is so good I forgot I was in a theater while I was watching it. Just about the best writing I’ve read was accomplished by Susan Howatch in “Cashelmara.” There was a period in the middle of the book, about 150 pages, that I simply could not read fast enough, it was so compelling. About halfway into this too long Tony Scott thriller, Scott’s expert direction of Déjà Vu mimics Howatch’s mastery. I was totally lost in the film. An atomic bomb could have exploded and I don’t think I would have noticed.

Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington, who is as good as he always is) is an ATF agent who is called into an investigation of the explosion of a ferry boat full of passengers. He’s asked by FBI Agent Pryzwarra (Val Kilmer) to join his elite unit to discover the perp. Doug is immediately swept up in a secret, futuristic computer program that can recapture the past, but only in real time, and only 4-1/2 days ago. No replays.

The concept is so well presented that it has ostensible credibility. In fact, I thought what made “Final Countdown” so good was that not only did it have a credible premise, but the outcome was equally credible, so long as you buy the premise. So, too, with Déjà Vu.

Jim Caviezel turns 180 degrees from playing Jesus in “Passion of the Christ” to playing Carroll Oerstadt, a mad bomber, and he is as believable a mad bomber as he was as Jesus. Although we first meet her as a mutilated corpse, we get to meet Claire Kuchever (Paula Patton) in what would normally be called a flashback, but in this film it isn’t. You’ll have to see the film to understand that.

Tony Scott has directed such an inventive film, written by Bill Marsilii and Terry Rossio, that I don’t want to tell much more of the plot. When at their best Scott and Producer Jerry Bruckheimer know how to make a movie that keeps its pace throughout, and they are at their best here.

That’s enough. If you like time warp movies and want to find out more, go see the film.

November 16, 2006