A heart-pounding thriller with a time-travel twist, “Deja Vu” will not leave you thinking you’ve seen it all before.
Denzel Washington plays Doug Carlin, an ATF agent called in to investigate a bombing. Someone, perhaps a terrorist, has blown up a ferry boat filled with families. Carlin is smart, knowledgeable, dedicated, and persistent. He knows who he is and he knows what he knows and how to find out what he doesn’t know.
And one thing he knows is that someone may have intended the body of a lovely young woman named Claire Kuchever (Paula Patton of Idlewild) to look as though she was one of the ferry passengers, but she was not. As he begins to track down her story, he begins to unravel the events that led to the bombing. He starts to feel he knows her so well, that he is connected to her somehow that he feels her loss sharply. He wants more than to solve the crime. He begins to wish that he could somehow rescue her. With all of his analytic ability, all of his power to make the confusing fit into neat rows of facts and circumstances, there are some odd, even impossible factors that catch at him. Like the message in magnetic letters on her refrigerator: U CAN SAVE HER. And there’s the matter of his fingerprints in her house.
“There are some time constraints,” says another federal investigator (Val Kilmer), inviting Carlin onto a task force. It turns out there is a secret government program (thank you Patriot Act funding) to essentially TIVO the world. And then it turns out that the “tapes” he is watching of Claire Kuchever’s last days are not exactly tapes. Yes, they are the past. But they are a glimpse of a past that is within reach. Carlin may be able to go back in time. He may already have done it; he just needs to remember how and what to do once he gets there.
All of this is the icing — the cake is the good, old-fashioned action, with lots of chases, fights, and explosions, expertly presented by action masters director Tony Scott and producer Jerry Bruckheimer. What makes it work, though is Washington, Hollywood’s top go-to guy for the whole package — he brings such conviction to the role that we are ready to believe it, too, and such a jolt of pure movie star power that we are with him every pulse-pounding step of the way. You might have to see this one twice — to put all the pieces together and, knowing where it’s all going, just to sit back and enjoy the ride.
Parents should know that this film has a lot of violence for a PG-13, including the bombing of a ship carrying civilians and children. There is some strong language. Characters drink and smoke. A strength of the movie is its portrayal of strong, capable, loyal, and diverse characters.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Time After Time, in which Victorian-era author H.G. Wells chases Victorian-era serial killer Jack the Ripper through modern-day San Francisco and Minority Report where technology enables the government to see and prevent crimes before they happen.