Déjà Vu Review

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After a ferry is bombed, government investigator Doug Carlin (Washington) takes on the case. Then colleague Pryzwarra (Kilmer) reveals a secret time machine that might mean the bombing could be prevented...


Tony Scott’s latest film, a distinct change of direction for the veteran director of Top Gun and Man On Fire, is a downbeat investigation of the paralysing nature of grief. Using a single fixed camera and only one rudimentary set, he patiently records the emotional disintegration of a widowed... Oh hell. Sorry. We can’t keep this up. Tony Scott’s latest film is, appropriately given the title, exactly like every other Tony Scott film: an experience akin to being beaten about the head with a hose while Hans Zimmer (or in this case Harry Gregson-Williams) turns his Minimoog up to 11. Brain-befuddling trash, then, but brain-befuddling trash from a master of the dark craft.

Time travel is the excuse for the big bangs this time, with Denzel Washington employing his unassailable screen charm as the government agent investigating the spectacular bombing of a New Orleans ferry. It’s convenient for his investigation that the government boffins have knocked up a device that can peer precisely four-and-a-half days into the past. But is it a time machine that a desperate cop could use to travel back to stop the bombing from ever happening? (The answer to this question is provided early on when someone yells something along the lines of, “You absolutely cannot send someone through the field — it’s just too risky!”)

Bill Marsilli and Terry Rossio’s often witty screenplay wrestles briefly with the paradoxes of time-travel before giving in after about half an hour, while Paula Patton is disappointingly bland as the love interest (though she is saddled with the inconvenience of being technically dead for most of the movie).

So far then, so stupid. But there is fun to be had. Tony Scott’s crazed camera shoots with the manic energy of a Ritalin-deprived teenager; the opening explosion is surely one of the most enjoyably destructive since Lethal Weapon 3, and he delivers possibly the world’s first split-screen car chase. Washington masterfully disguises the paucity of plot and character with spiky charm, and the support from Adam Goldberg as a string theory-spouting physicist adds energy to what would otherwise be interminable talking-head scenes.

Nobody does vapid bollocks as enjoyably as Tony Scott, and while this isn’t as inventive as Man On Fire or as compelling as Crimson Tide, it’s still the right side of dumb.