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Review

‘Déjà Vu’ story not worthy of recollection

December 7, 2006

We’ve all seen Denzel Washington at one time or another in the past, and I for one have come to deeply respect the actor. He has proven to be a chameleon on screen, whether it was as the bitter Malcolm X or a calm Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter.

But I must also say I haven’t seen any work of his that was really all that good in recent years, and “Déjà Vu” is no exception.

In this story, Washington plays Doug Carlin, a detective for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, who is investigating a recent terrorist bombing of a ferry outside New Orleans.

Finding clues along the shoreline like Sherlock Holmes, he is able to piece together the puzzle with hasty reasoning, leaving even those in charge of the investigation stunned at his ingenuity.

Recruited by an agent on the case (Val Kilmer), Carlin is introduced to a surveillance system capable of pinpointing anywhere in the city from any viewpoint, four days in the past. Not fooled, Carlin realizes it also has the ability to transport solid objects in the past, as if it were a time machine.

Using this technology, Carlin and a team try to discover the identity of the terrorist responsible by watching the past of one of his victims from the explosion, Claire Kuchever (newcomer Paula Patton).

During this time, her beauty captivates Carlin to the point of passion. Even when the terrorist is discovered and arrested, Carlin cannot ignore the fact that Claire will soon die and goes back to change her future.

I’m not sure why, but I just couldn’t really get into this film. Sure, there were some admirable, heart-pounding scenes, but I always felt as though they were missing something.

It couldn’t be the acting. Washington was fine, and Patton was indeed marvelous. I thought she did a splendid job despite the time restraint her character had on the screen.

Though director Tony Scott has always had a reputation for brief and frequent film editing, it wasn’t as though I felt overwhelmed. In fact I really felt the building tension a few times.

Perhaps it was the story itself. The notion that there is a reason why you have that feeling of déjà vu is original, but the idea of time travel has been done plenty of times before.

There were moments when Washington rejuvenated the film, bringing it back to life. But I found that the other supporting characters really had nothing to offer.

As I was exiting the theater, I didn’t hear anyone else discuss what they had just seen. Perhaps they were like me — not knowing what to feel. It wasn’t necessarily bad, but it wasn’t all that great either.

There were moments when I was caught up with the suspense, and at other times I was glancing at my watch wondering what time it was.

I suppose the best I could recommend is to wait for it to come out on video. That way if you like it, you’ll have a good time. Or if you don’t, then at least you won’t feel as though you’ve just wasted a ton of money.

Nick Welsh is a student at UW-River Falls.

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