Oscar-winner Denzel Washington stars as a Federal agent who goes back in time to stop a terror attack in a new action-thriller film from director Tony Scott and producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Alan Silverman has a look at Deja Vu.
The mysterious feeling that something has been experienced before - Deja Vu - becomes more than a feeling for veteran ATF agent Doug Carlin. When a terror attack blows up a crowded Mississippi River ferryboat in New Orleans, Federal explosives expert Carlin learns that the murder of a young woman named Claire may be linked to the blast. If he could see what led up to Claire's death, he might be able to catch the bomber. A top secret government project lets him do just that on a bank of large screen monitors.
The device lets them spy on events exactly four days before the present time; but investigator Carlin is shocked to learn that what they are viewing is not just a record of past events ...they are watching the events unfold; and if the device can send him back those four days, he might be able to change the outcome, prevent the murder and the terror attack.
Denzel Washington stars as Doug Carlin and admits he found the premise a bit confusing until director Scott and producer Bruckheimer explained how it was going to work in the story.
"Tony and Jerry had to, somewhat, convince me that this would work," admits Washington. "When I read the original screenplay I thought 'I don't know, fellows.'"
But Washington says talking to a theoretical physicist helped as did learning that some of the technology depicted in the film is already being used for surveillance.
"A lot of what you see they are capable of. I don't know about the multi-angles and all of that, but we do have the technology with Google Earth to look at somebody's house," he notes. "We do have the technology where you can look through somebody's house. They use it in Baghdad as we speak, where you see a heat signature. Where it's going now - or has already gone [I don't really know] - is that by gathering your DNA and genetic information, they can then identify you as opposed to me. So they can look at your house from 18 miles above, see your signature, know what your makeup is and know that it's you."
Paula Patton co-stars as Claire, who does not realize that her life is in danger when this man who claims to be from four days in her future shows up.
"Claire isn't convinced until the very end of the movie, to be honest," explains Patton. "I think that what she knows is that there is some kind of 'deja vu' in that she feels a connection to Denzel's character, Doug. When he asks her to make a leap of faith, it's her trust in him that makes her have that. I don't think until the very end that she really believes what has happened. It's more of a trust in him."
The catalyst that brings them together is the homegrown bomber played by James Caviezel, whom audiences may be more used to seeing as 'good' characters, such as Jesus in The Passion of the Christ.
"I'm always looking for really good stories and in this particular case I don't fall on the good side, but the story still has great truth in it," he says. "You want to continue to grow as an actor [and] as long as the piece is responsible, it's good."
Deja Vu vividly portrays the impact of the terror attack, but director Tony Scott insists his intention is to entertain, not to frighten.
"It's a world we're privy to today and you see it on the news all the time, so I think people are a little more [savvy'," says Scott. "They're sitting in a movie theater and it's a piece of fiction, so I think they're more accepting because it is a movie."
Deja Vu features Val Kilmer as the FBI agent who brings Washington's agent Carlin into the secret project; Adam Goldberg plays the scientist who creates the time portal technology. The film was shot on location in New Orleans, including the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood, showing the terrible devastation in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.