It's a real shame that everything I had read about Déjà Vu concerned the high-powered explosions and loud clatter of guru/producer Jerry Bruckheimer. No mention, except maybe as a footnote, was given to A-list director Tony Scott and the magic he has woven in his past three films. The man who brought us Top Gun has seen a sort of revival in style lately with the entertaining Spy Game, the amazing Man on Fire, and the kinetic Domino. Scott has taken the quick cuts of music videos and has infused them into his shooting style. His editor better be making some good money as these films fly by with filters, jump-cuts, grain, and camera angles swiveling at every turn. Greatly overshadowed by brother Ridley Scott and his more serious, award-winning epics, Tony has been pumping out some of the most solid and entertaining films of the past couple decades. With a reuniting of semi-regular star Denzel Washington, Déjà Vu proves that when Bruckheimer is paired with a like mind, his usual drivel can become great. Scott shows us how to hone the explosions, noise, and clutter to an effective level and gives us a helluva ride.
Déjà Vu could have easily reduced itself to timetravel farce, going by the books to show a time warp in order to solve a crime. The far-fetched premise of being able to see the past as it happens four and a half days later should seem crazy and by watching the previews you are given the idea that it will be just a series of do-overs. Fortunately the trailers these days show a totally different movie than what has been crafted. Scott and his screenwriters have not only developed a sci-fi tale seeped in enough reality to at least be looked upon as plausible for the sake of the story, but they nicely tidy up any chance of their being a plothole. Our story begins with a devastating domestic terrorist act upon a ferry carrying over 500 people, Navy and family. Washington's ATF agent is brought in and discovers that it was no accident. Intrigued by the efficiency he displays, an FBI agent, played with nicely effective restraint by Val Kilmer, calls him in to check out a new toy they have to find who the perpetrator is. During the use of this screen of the past, Denzel acquires a feeling of obligation to do all he can to prevent what he sees from occurring in the present, no matter what consequences that might entail for the future. The quest to stop the violence begins with an attractive young woman who unknowingly has become an integral part in what will ultimately transpire.
The beauty of this film is that with multiple timelines being shown parallel to each other, there are many questions that desperately need answering. To credit all involved, they appear to have put themselves in the audience's shoes and piece-by-piece wrote in a reason for everything. Anything that is seen either in the past, present, or future has a reason for being there and will be intelligently explained. Also, the performances are stellar, Denzel and Kilmer as well as a quietly maniacal Jim Caviezel and the emotionally exasperated Paula Patton, and the visuals unique. While Scott has toned down the ultra-kinetic cuts and filters for the main action, his style is still stamped on the graphics of their screen showing the past. The motion trails and speed scans lend a stylized digital editing program feel and are gorgeous to watch. Déjà Vu's best sequence, however, is the crazy car chase during the present in pursuit of a vehicle in the past, definitely a rush and orchestrated almost flawlessly. Even though Ridley gets the accolades and Tony gets the hack/overproduced label, I must say, while they are the best directing duo in Hollywood, I might have to give the edge on pure cinematic entertainment to the younger Tony. He is on a roll and doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon.