Deja Vu

I went to see the new Denzel Washington movie, Deja Vu yesterday afternoon and I have to say that I was disappointed with it. The acting was good (it usually is with someone of Denzel’s stature) but the story itself was flawed in my opinion, enough so that it really took away from the movie.

The premise of the movie was that a government agency had the ability to look back 4 days in time, to anywhere within range of their monitoring device. They got full 3D and audio, but they could only scan something once, they couldn’t go back and look at it again. In order to solve the mystery, Denzel Washington is enlisted to help the team figure out where to look.

This might be a novel idea for the general public but the idea of time travel, of any kind, is mundane in science fiction. There are few novel and interesting using of time travel these days. One problem is avoiding flaws, paradoxes, and pitfalls. I liked the idea of seeing into the past in great detail in order to figure out who committed a crime. (There were echoes of Piers Anthony’s Macroscope and Philip K. Dick’s “Minority Report”.) But there were too many flaws to make it good science fiction. The biggest mistake was allowing Denzel’s character to travel back to the past. Unless you come up with a novel concept for avoiding paradoxes, there is no new territory to be covered, and it leaves you open to all kinds of problems.

Denzel goes to the past to save a girl and to prevent a bomb from destroying a ferry. He is successful, but he loses his own life in the effort. However, it is 4 days in the past, so the Denzel from the past is still alive. The movie ends with the girl he saved hinting that she now has to save him, but if she saves him, will she die? Will the bomb go off? Where does the cycle end. I, for one, was disappointed with the ending. It left me feeling unsatisfied.

I went to see the movie because the previews made it sound interesting, like there would be something we haven’t seen before. And the reviews it received have not been bad. But when all was said and done, we have seen this before, many times, and better executed than in this particular incarnation.