(Warning: This has nothing to do with the film until the next paragraph.)
What better way to start things off than some good old fashioned complaining? AMC Orange Park 24 has kicked its prices to an outrageous $8.00...for STUDENTS. I didn't even look to see what the regular price was. Hey, movie industry: it's starting to get ridiculous. There has been talk ever since 9/11 about how the entire movie industry has taken a shot and with the new Blu-Ray technology and HD DVD's out there, I can see why some people would think that. However, what those folks fail to consider is that there are always going to be people out there like myself who will see movies in the theater for the sole reason that we love the experience. There's just something about actually being in a theater that makes it worth it. That being said, $8.00 for student tickets is absolutely preposterous. So for the love of Mike, check the prices online before you go out to the theater, because this time you might not have enough for your usual Steak 'N Shake run afterwards.
Now that THAT'S out of the way, let's get into the real reason I've started this blog: reviews. I hate people that do what I'm about to do, but for this film, I kind of feel the need to do it, and for that I apologize. If you haven't seen Deja Vu, there will be spoilers that will ruin it for you. That's just the nature of the beast, at least for this film. In the future I might be able to work in some reviews that don't completely ruin the movie, but that's just not the case this time. Sorry. However, I would highly recommend that you DO get out and see this film, since I thought it was really well done. So once again for all you people who just skim over paragraphs searching for important words, DO NOT CONTINUE READING THIS IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN DEJA VU.
Tony Scott (brother of the more-famous Ridley) directed this film, and honestly, the man's got a pretty good track record in my book. Check out his filmography at IMDB here. Anyway, I was slightly worried (due to what I'd seen in the trailer) that Deja Vu would be full of shaky camera work ala Bourne Supremacy, but thankfully this is not the case. Actually, the camera work stands out as one of the more outstanding features of the film. There are a lot of tracking shots that serve to move the story along at a reasonable pace and give a certain resonance behind Doug's (played, obviously if you've seen the film, by Denzel) actions. He NEEDS to prevent Claire's (played by a woman I've never heard of, Paula Patton, but she turned in a fine performance) death, and the camera work plays a huge part in relaying that to the audience.
Denzel, as usual, was really phenomenal. Personally, I'm a big fan of character development in films. I have to really know the characters before I can feel sorry for them when their partners get killed in gruesome ways (OK, maybe I'd feel sorry for just about anyone if their partner was brutally murdered before their eyes, but you get my point). Deja Vu kind of cops out in this aspect. There's the few scenes of Doug and his partner arguing, but we don't know what they were arguing about. Doug seemingly has absolutely no life outside of his job, which would be fine if he was portrayed as a workaholic-type character. Unfortunately for believability's sake, this is not the case. Denzel is almost TOO charismatic, and the audience is more likely to believe that he'll go out on the town after work than sit at his house (which we never see) without the companionship of some ridiculously attractive female (the writers also never bother to address this fact in Doug's past). The only reasoning offered by the film is the exchange between Val Kilmer and Denzel on the boat that goes something like:
Denzel: Everything gets taken away from us. No matter how hard we try to hold on, it always slips through our hands.
Val: Oh, come on. It's not that bad.
Denzel: Yes, it is. Moms and Dads die, and every person we ever love, ever, will die.
Val: Man, Denzel, go listen to some Eddie Money and loosen up a little bit.
Denzel: (Solemn look on face)
Yeah, that's pretty much word for word what was said in the film. Exaggeration aside, there wasn't TOO much in the way of character development in this movie. There was no back story on any of the computer geek squad members working with Doug and Val Kilmer's character. I mean, I LIKED those characters. They served their purpose as supporting roles and they did it pretty well. They cried when horrible things happened to Doug's partner and they laughed at their own stupid jokes. They helped Denzel at the end do what we all knew he was going to do: break the orders from the bureaucratic bigwigs and go back in time himself. What I'm getting at here is that even though there wasn't a particular character in the film where I was like, "Man, I really liked everyone's performance EXCEPT for (insert name here)'s," they still could have done a much better job of delving a little deeper into (at least) the main characters' backgrounds.
One of the main points that I'd like to make about this movie is the multitude of themes that were presented. Predestination vs. Free Will, the true meaning of patriotism ("one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter"), the standard "love conquers all," and more. More importantly though are the political stances taken in the film. With the government funding this new technology where cameras can go literally everywhere (albeit in a certain grid) and the hero using what he has learned from this technology to eventually take down the bad guy, the movie takes the stance that maybe the Patriot Act isn't as terrible as people make it out to be. While the ending arguably undercuts this point with Denzel's explosive death, it also serves to reinforce it by showing us that the sacrifice of one person is good for the many, obviously drawing parallels to the recent political upheaval about the Patriot Act and privacy issues in America. The movie basically says "Hey, if we have to give up a little here and there, but 543 people survive this boat explosion because of it...I guess we can deal with that." You don't see too many films with those kind of undercurrents coming out of Hollywood these days, and I admire the writers for working in that point of view in such an unobtrusive way. Plus, Denzel lives on (in the present form, anyway), so all is right with the world.
Did anyone else think of how weird that car conversation must have been between Claire and Doug at the very end? I mean, she had to explain to him all the things that his OTHER self did for her. CrAzY.
In conclusion, Val Kilmer is the man, and Deja Vu was a really good movie. Until next time...