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Deja Vu

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Deja Vu is thoughtful, moving and generally exciting. Read on:

It’s hard not to like Tony Scott. Even though he may have single-handedly generated our fascination with filmmaking style over substance, he still created a memorable — nay, classic — body of work, and proved that even folks like Michael Bay can mature over time (albeit in admittedly microscopic measures). His latest film, Déjà Vu, is sort of a hybrid of the two impulses that have defined his career thus far: unrelenting visual excess and a tenuous relationship with actual human feeling. Starring Scott’s longtime leading man Denzel Washington, the film transcends the superficial appeal of its core concept — what if you could go back in time? — and actually offers a thoughtful, moving and genuinely exciting thriller that will likely serve as terrific counterprogramming for the Oscar bait and family fare releasing in the weeks to come.

Washington plays Doug Carlin, an ATF agent who inadvertently finds himself drawn into a murder mystery while investigating the explosion of a New Orleans ferryboat. Recovering the body of one of the supposed victims, Claire Kuchever (Paula Patton), Carlin takes not only professional but personal notice of the young woman’s… attributes. Before long, he determines that she may be the key to discovering the terrorist’s identity. Thankfully, a cadre of technology-wielding federal agents (including Val Kilmer and Adam Goldberg) offer the agent a unique opportunity to revisit Claire’s life. But Carlin is soon forced to decide whether cracking the case is more important than saving one woman’s life — especially if he has unexpectedly developed feelings for that woman, and knows what will eventually happen to her.

While we’ve seen quite a cross-section of cops and authority figures from Washington over the course of his career, Carlin feels like the most comfortable of these he’s yet played — the actor no longer seems determined to prove or insist upon his leading-man status. In a film like this where the chemistry between the star and his leading lady is reliant on their ability to overcome the technological backdrop, the hairpin storytelling and most of all the fact they barely have any actual screen time together, Washington carries the growing attraction effortlessly. It’s a testament to his performance that the film hardly ever feels like a sci-fi odyssey or any sort of high-concept adventure.

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Deja Vu Movie Posters

View the trailer

In theaters November 22, 2006

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