Deja Vu (Scott, 2006)

After the incoherent and brash stylistics of Domino, Tony Scott returns with Deja Vu, a flashy (but not too much) riff on the time-travel movie – one that turns out to be slyly written and exciting, surprisingly favoring character over visuals. Denzel Washington plays ATF agent Doug Carlin, whose investigation of a massive ferry bombing leads him to a government task force (led by now chubby Val Kilmer) able to technologically look into the past for clues in solving the crime. Carlin, like the viewer, has trouble buying into the fancy smoke and mirrors, but Scott gives enough of the science in layman’s terms so it sounds convincing within the story being told. Even if it’s narrative logic falls to the wayside by the end, Deja Vu sustains an immediacy based on the size of the terrorist attack (over 500 killed, mainly U.S. servicemen) and Carlin’s need to stop it from happening. Throw in a young woman caught up in the time travel theatrics and Scott has himself a morphing, ever changing love triangle between Carlin’s duty to solving the case, catching the bad guy, and saving the girl. Deja Vu is not meant to be a serious study of worm holes, ethics in time travel, nor post 9/11 surveillance techniques (although it has a subtle underlining motif with invasion of privacy). Scott’s latest likes to jumble all of these themes up into a ball of “what ifs” and “what the hells”, finally folding back on itself with a humorous, wink to the audience. All these ideas, however simply presented, add up to much more than the insulting, trashy, and derivative stylings of Domino. Welcome back to the future Tony.

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