Deja Vu Movie Review

Today, I watched a surprisingly interesting movie, Déjà Vu with Denzel Washington. (The wiki page has got spoilers.)

Déjà Vu is a French expression, litteraly meaning “already seen”. It’s pronounced /deʒa vy/ is also called paramnesia.

The meaning of the word actually goes deeper than that, as you might already know.

The term “déjà vu” describes the experience of feeling that one has witnessed or experienced a new situation previously. The term was coined by a French psychic researcher, Émile Boirac (18511917) in his book L’Avenir des sciences psychiques (The Future of Psychic Sciences), which expanded upon an essay he wrote while an undergraduate French concentrator at the University of Chicago. The experience of déjà vu is usually accompanied by a compelling sense of familiarity, and also a sense of “eeriness”, “strangeness”, or “weirdness”. The “previous” experience is most frequently attributed to a dream, although in some cases there is a firm sense that the experience “genuinely happened” in the past. Déjà vu has been described as “Remembering the future.”

The movie is actually classified as a science-fiction thriller, which is why it got me interested.

The movie was directed by Tony Scott and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

I liked this movie.

It was good entertainment. The investigative parts are really interesting. They almost feel spoilt by the science-fiction part, which really doesn’t make too much sense. The whole technobabble about how they are able to see the past through temporal remote viewing is also dubious.

Still there are good parts in this movie. It’s a good rental.


Denzel Washington plays an ATF agent Doug Carlin investigating the explosion of the Algiers, a ferry that was carrying a Navy crew. Over 500 people are dead, including women and children; the crew’s families.

The setting is post-Katrina New Orleans.

His enquires lead him to confirm within hours that this wasn’t an accident. He starts investigating the murder of Claire Kuchever, a woman whose body was found dead floating in the river. Her body was found one hour before the explosion of the Algiers. In some way she is connected. What surprises him is that she looks like she died from the explosion, but her body turned up almost an hour before it.

Through security tapes, they find the man who they suspect of triggering the device aboard the Algiers. There is actually trace residue on the bottom of a nearby bridge suggesting that the explosion was anything but accidental.

She had burn marks all over her body. He goes to her house and finds strange things; a few bloody rags, a gun and a lot of art. Claire’s body was gagged with duct tape for a while and her fingers were cut off.

While he is listening to her messages on her answering machine, he actually hears his own voice; he called this woman who kept calling him at his office that same morning. Another strange thing is that he can not reach his partner, who is on vacation.

Val Kilmer put on some pounds to play Agent Pryzwarra, an FBI agent.

The investigation into the explosion turns up evidence after modeling that the initial blast turned the whole ferry into a bomb, by detonating the fuel reserves in the engine room. They suspect that an SUV or a minivan was used to house the explosives. Doug Carlin walks in and tells them about Claire’s murder. He tells them that she had traces of PETN on her body, an explosive. He believes that the bomber killed her, burned her alive and dumped her into the river, almost 2 hours before the bomb exploded, so that her body would be washed up with all the other bodies from the explosion.

After he gives his theories to the FBI, Carlin spots his partner’s car outside. He is told that the car belonged t one of the victims, meaning that his partner is dead. We learn that Carlin is a former marine and that the FBI likes him.

Agent Pryzwarra brings him to a center of operations. Dr. Alexander Denny is in charge of a part of the investigation. He is shown video footage of the Algiers. He is told that the footage is part of a digital reconstruction called snowhite, which uses the data from 7 orbiting satellites as main footage. The rest comes from video shot by the victims.

At least that is what he is told. He asks them where do they get the audio from and they don’t really have an answer for him. He is told that they always have to go back 4 days and 6 hours, because it’s like a single trailing moment. Which means that they can’t go back 10 minutes ago.

They focus back on Claire Kuchever and learn more details about her, that the Bronco was also her fiancé’s. He is told that his fingerprints all over the place in the victim’s house.

He is told that they can not rewind the stream, it’s constant. If they miss anything it’s gone. Sounds a bit strange. When he asks if the remote viewing is only one way, the FBI agent and the doctor exchange glances.

They follow her around in the past and find the bomber, or the person that they suspect is the bomber.

Carlin does a little experiment and they tell him that they are actually remote viewing the past, through a wormhole. There is a lot of technobabble, nothing really makes sense and it doesn’t take quantum theory into effect, but anyways, they try and send a note back so that Carlin can stop the terrorist before it happens, but his partner Minuti finds it and that is why Minuti is dead.

They send Minuti to get the bomber, but Minuti is shot by the bomber. Carlin just got his partner killed. Carlin takes the mobile viewer and goes after the bomber and Minuti.

He chases after the bomber, who is in the past. The people being viewed this way get a feeling of déjà vu. He finds a place where the bomber pulled up 4 days ago. In the present, the house is destroyed, with an ambulance inside of it, but 4 days ago it was fine.

This movie kind of reminds me of Paycheck, the movie with Ben Affleck.

The bomber in the past is going to kill Minuti by burning him. Minuti is killed and then set ablaze. In the present, Carlin finds crocodiles in a holding pen and sees them feast on a body.

The bomber is Carroll Orstadt and he was attacking the government not the navy. He was the owner of the bait camp.

After they get his confession, the FBI wants to shut down the remote viewing program for this case, because it’s over. Carlin and the doctor decide that it’s not enough. They decide to send Carlin back to a hospital so that he can be revived once he arrives.

It works and Carlin makes it back just in time to prevent Claire’s murder. Carlin commandeered an ambulance to get there in time. He drives the ambulance through Orstadt’s house.

Orstadt blows up his house but Carlin is able to escape with Claire.

Claire and Carlin makes his way to the site, he puts the puzzle pieces together. They stop at Claire’s house and Carlin bandages his bullet wound.

Claire becomes suspicious and pulls a gun on Carlin. She calls his office and now it makes sense why she called him that morning. Doug notices that they are exactly recreating what will happen in the future. He tells Claire that she has to come with him.

Orstadt notices his truck is at the dock before jumping on his bike. He goes back onto the ferry. Claire is supposed to warn the security officers of the bomb. But instead, she jumps onto the ferry herself as well to warn Carlin. Orstadt finds her next to her truck.

Orstadt is surprised by security and there is a shootout. Claire is in the truck with duct tape over her mouth wearing the same dress and jewelry as she did the day she died.

Claire drives into Orstadt and Carlin shoots him. They drive the truck overboard so that the bomb is off the boat. They try to get out of the truck as it is being pushed underneath another boat. Carlin can’t make it out, but this version of Carlin is supposed to die, because two Carlin’s can’t exist at the same time.

Claire meets Doug once again as he arrives on the scene.

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