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  Deja Vu Retrospective Rescue
Year: 2006
Director: Tony Scott
Stars: Denzel Washington, Paula Patton, Val Kilmer, Jim Caviezel, Adam Goldberg, Elden Henson, Erika Alexander, Bruce Greenwood, Rich Hutchman, Matt Craven, Donna W. Scott, Elle Fanning, Brian Howe, Enrique Castillo, Mark Phinney, Ann Turkel
Genre: Action, Thriller, Science Fiction, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: The crew of a U.S. Navy warship have shore leave with their families to visit the New Orleans Mardi Gras which is being held nearby, and pile onto the ferry to reach it, oblivious to the fact that someone has placed a huge bomb in one of the cars being transported there. The suspicions are raised too late and it explodes, killing over five hundred people with the bomber escaping, meaning it is all the more imperative that he be tracked down before he strikes again. One of the best government agents, Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) is immediately assigned and gets to work, but when he finds a body which does not fit with the events, he starts to wonder...

Deja Vu (note the title's lack of accents over the vowels, none of that namby pamby nonsense here) was a film that nearly did not happen at all, as the production was almost sent off the rails thanks to the infamous hurricane, Katrina, that hit the city it was to be shot in. They did manage to go ahead with it, and the fact they completed it was testament to the city's resilience and its powers of recovery, so there is a dedication at the end pointing this out. It was strangely fitting that a movie which had the plot of a disaster needing to be averted would itself be disrupted by a real life disaster, but fiction didn't quite mesh with fact.

Really, Deja Vu owed more to the events of September the 11th 2001, featuring as it did a terrorist atrocity that seems impossible to do anything about now, but thanks to movie magic this effort shows us how such things can be stopped in their tracks. Nothing that we could actually do in the real world, naturally, but this is fantasy we're talking about, and it's meant to make you feel better, however falsely it rang in effect. That device that halts the bad guys is time travel, something the United States government has not perfected - as far as we know - but is well adapted to the kind of action flick that producer Jerry Bruckheimer was all too familar with: this was about the crowd pleasing.

There's a touch of the Thomas Harris about Doug's initial investigation, as he examines the body of the young woman which he keenly notes was dead at the time of the explosion, therefore she was a murder victim of the bomber before he had set off the charges. On the table, he notes to the medical examiner how attractive she was, which could have set the film down the Laura route, but instead of getting creepy it prompts the story to go in the science fiction direction. Well, it is quite creepy, because the government has a machine which enables them to see four days or so into the past, so they begin to follow the murder victim around her life leading up to her death.

She turns out to be Claire (Paula Patton), and at points in their surveillance she seems to be aware of being watched, which makes for an uncomfortable "gag" when the research team watches her in the shower, as if all that other observation wasn't intrusive enough. This is too passive for a man of action like Denzel to be involved with, so he discovers what the team are not telling him, that it is possible to interact with the past through this device, and he predictably goes back in time to save the woman he now has a romantic interest in. All this is heavy handed to say the least, and throwing in a few pumped up thrill sequences does little for it, but as an attempt to make a nation feel better about something which made them feel impotent in the face of world events, it just about pulls it off. If you don't have qualms about the Peeping Tom bits, then Deja Vu doesn't trouble the brain too much. Music by Harry Gregson-Williams.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Tony Scott  (1944 - 2012)

British-born director Tony Scott was the brother of director Ridley Scott and worked closely with him in their production company for film and television, both having made their names in the advertising business before moving onto glossy features for cinema. He shocked Hollywood by committing suicide by jumping from a bridge in Los Angeles for reasons that were never disclosed.

His first high profile film was vampire story The Hunger, but it was with his second, Top Gun, that he really arrived and became much sought after for his highly polished style with Beverly Hills Cop II following soon after. He hit a blip with his next two films, the flops Revenge and Days of Thunder, but found his feet once again in The Last Boy Scout, Quentin Tarantino's True Romance (often judged his best work), submarine thriller Crimson Tide, The Fan, spy suspenser Enemy of the State, Spy Game, and then a run of movies starring Denzel Washington including Man on Fire, Deja Vu and Unstoppable.

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