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Laramie Movie Scope: Deja Vu

Slick time travel story

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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November 23, 2006 -- “Deja Vu” is a slick little time travel story about an investigation into a terrorist bombing. If you are one of those people who is sick and tired of time travel stories, don't bother going to this one. It is more of the same. If you like time travel stories, however, this is one of the better examples of the genre.

Like most time travel stories, this film explores the idea of fate, and like most, it promotes the idea that events are not fixed. They can be changed by a time traveler. The film begins like a conventional murder mystery with an explosion on a ferry in New Orleans (this film was the first post-Katrina film made in New Orleans). Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms investigator Doug Carlin (played by Denzel Washington of “Training Day”) finds a link between the bombing and the murder of a young woman, Claire Kuchever (Paula Patton of “Hitch”). Carlin believes Kuchever was murdered by the bomber, who then used her car to plant the explosives on the ferry. After making several similarly astute discoveries about the bombing, Carlin is invited to join a new investigation team by a mysterious federal agent, Pryzwarra (Val Kilmer of “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang”).

Carlin soon discovers an amazing new technology that gives investigators access to everything that happened in New Orleans four days earlier. Using computer monitors, investigators can see and hear everything within a limited area of the city four days earlier. Their ability to record this information is limited and they can't go back and forth in time. They are limited to four days, and the window progresses forward in normal time. Their window of opportunity to solve the crime is very limited. Carlin soon discovers that this isn't just a window on the past, that is possible to interact directly in the past, using the time-bending equipment. The equipment itself uses large quantities of power to bend space-time, creating an artificial wormhole.

Carlin is not content to solve the crime, he wants to go back in time and prevent it. This sets him on a very dangerous course, because no one has ever traveled back in time and lived to tell the tale. The story gets into some of the usual time travel issues, including the paradox of duplication (two copies of the same person existing in the same space-time continuum) and the danger of changing the future. Mostly, however, this is a love story about how Carlin falls for the incredible beauty of Claire Kuchever and becomes obsessed with the idea of saving her, and the 500-odd people who died in the explosion.

This is a slick production with top-notch effects, stunts and acting talent. The story is well thought out and believable to an extent. The movie could have been a lot more fun, had it gone for a lighter tone, but it is oppressively heavy for the most part and the pacing is slow at times. Still, if you like time travel stories, this one is pretty solid. It is a lot better than “Timecop.” It rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics, theater tickets and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2006 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)