In Déjà Vu, ATF agent Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) is called upon to solve a major bombing of a ferry in post-Katrina New Orleans. It is when the body of Claire Kuchever (Paula Patton) washes ashore that Carlin begins to unravel clues to a connection between Kuchever and the suspected bomber. Carlin is assigned by FBI agent Pryzwarra (Val Kilmer) to solve the mystery and takes him to a secret high-tech ‘time-window’ lab – created by the FBI as a surveillance system, allowing them, through satellite imagery to re-create events occurring four days in the past. The chase for the bomber begins, both in real – and past time dimensions.
It is this type of scientific fantasy which drives the plot of Déjà Vu, more so than the ‘love story’ angle which seems bland and under-explored compared to the highly charged action and mysticism of Déjà Vu. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Tony Scott (their sixth film collaboration), Déjà Vu is a big explosions and intense car-chase action thriller from the onset as is most common in Bruckheimer produced films. It contains typical Scott style camera cuts and alternative angles (see Man on Fire and Domino). A story with the science fiction undertones that Déjà Vu carries would seem to be complex and hard to follow, however this is not the case as any sci-fi jargon is explained in the easiest way possible for the viewer. Ultimately it is Washington’s excellent performance which holds the piece together.
The action sequences in Déjà Vu are spectacular, especially the opening sequence of the ferry bombing (probably one of the best pyro-technical displays in a film to date). From car and boat chases to shoot-outs – the film has it all. Where it does lack is in its hard-to-believe story line and failure to really show a love connection between the film’s male and female leads. However what it lacks in these departments is made up for in enticing action sequences that stimulate each of your senses and fine acting on Washington’s part.
The third time Denzel Washington and Tony Scott have worked together. They would collaborate on two other films before Scott’s death in 2012. Its also the first film Scott, Washington and producer Jerry Bruckheimer have worked on since Crimson Tide (1995), and the last film Scott and Bruckheimer would work on after six collaborations.