The Power of Destiny
Ever come across the feeling that you were here before, when you entered a room, say for example, and a vague sense of emotion sort of lingers in your mind. Then you begin to ask yourself, "Haven't I been here once before?" In some ways, it can be tied to premonition, what you might have seen in a dream, or a fleeting moment that just came and went without you grasping all the details at once. You saw whatever it was that you saw, but for that moment, your brain wasn't able to decipher it, only for it to refresh out of memory when you enter into that scenario, similar or frighteningly exact.
I'm not really talking about seeing the future, where something that doesn't make sense pops up in a dream, only for it to happen days, months or even years later. For instance, I once dreamt that I had thrown a rock at a friend of mine when we were swimming in a river as kids. Because it was a dream, I didn't pay it much heed, until I actually happened to accidentaly throw that small rock and hit my friend, about two years down the road.
I'm talking about deja vu, as is elaborated in the following passage as thus:
- Wikipedia: Deja vu
Though in some sense, deja vu can be argued as a prophetic access of things, perhaps an inherent ability that humankind is able to tap into, but is only able to do so in rare occasions. But that, is an argument for another day, and though I'd very much like to bring that to discussion, my topic for the day concerns the latest production by Tony Scott, starring Denzel Washington, in the crime thriller of the same name as the feeling which I'm talking about right now.
As I was walking about in Melbourne this afternoon on various errands, I received a call from one of my friends, who then asked if I was free later tonight to watch a movie. I wasn't expecting him to suggest anything of note, until he mentioned Deja vu, because I knew he wasn't one of those types that would go for films with sad themes in them (or so I was told), such as Pursuit of Happyness, which some girls I had known had seen it over the previous weekend and were touched by the storytelling. Not that I was particularly interested anyway, as I told myself that I was going to set aside my viewing time for two movies this year: 300 and Transformers, and not really care about any other movie unless it was recommended.
When I came to meet my friend, I found out what movie we were going to watch, and it clicked back in my mind (out of memory this time) that I had seen the trailer for the very movie a few months back after watching Inside Man, and was very interested. Then I forgot all about it and went on with my life, until today that is.
While sitting down to watch this movie, I could not help but point out the similarities between this one and Man On Fire, other than being directed/produced by the same person, starring the same frontman and taking on a quicker pace than most movies, darting from one scene to the next but not without explaining the general outlook of each given scene, and leaving the nitty-gritty details to the viewer to gauge.
The movie starts off innocently enough, in the months after Katrina hit New Orleans, where a ferry begins to charter hundreds of sailors to presumably a Mardi Gras celebration. The faces of each person are clearly expressed, something which will remain a norm throughout the rest of the show, the little girl who dropped her doll into the river, to the band playing in the background as it is slowly replaced by a growing distinct car radio.
Then the unexpected happens, just as a bomb is discovered on one of the vehicles within the ferry, it goes off with one explosion and in doing so, ignites the fuel compartments of the ship, and the destruction is total, and soon bodies litter the river in massive numbers.
Enter Doug Carlin (played by Denzel), an enigmatic ATF agent who resorts to quick consideration and lateral thinking to solve the dilemma faced by the government - to apprehend the terrorist behind the crime. He discovers the body of a beautiful woman washed ashore, made to look as though she were part of the explosion, but when he takes a closer look at the details, Doug discovers that the woman's death was not tied to the ferry in any way, except to the actions of the perpetrator. He figures out that solving the murder of the woman (known as Claire) will then in turn lead him to the terrorist.
Because of his findings, he is brought by one of the FBI agents on the scene (Val Kilmer) to a machine that takes up the space of an entire warehouse, that is devoted to looking into the past by means of satellite imagery gathered from the past until the present, and through a number of other factors (of which I've forgotten), will enable people to look into the past not from a recorded point of view, but in real-time. The only catch is that they cannot rewind or fast forward what they'd be watching if they felt that they missed a point, and would have to be forced to go along the full of it, a four-day-and-six-hour view into the past. As George Carlin would say in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, the clock in San Dimas is always ticking.
Which is where Doug comes in, as he points to the scientists where they should look, and they focus on the day-to-day activities of Claire's life, and how she is tied to the terrorist. However, the machine tends to show more than just the past, as Doug confirms that it is also a link to the past (by means of a little experiment involving a laser light, which sends out a blackout to the entire city), to which it can be changed to suit the present, though always at a great cost: Who would know what the future might bring if even a small part of the past was changed?
Even so, nothing can seem to change the fact that the disaster will happen even with the intervention from the future. Even after they have apprehended the terrorist, Doug comes to rethink the concept of catching criminals after they have done their wrong, a subject he has faced all his life, to the possibility of preventing the crime from ever happening.
Deja Vu is graced by dynamic characters who seek to solve the crime behind the terrorist attack in a manner that would be deemed in other movies as science-fiction, though the machine is never seen as a conduit to the cyberpunk genre, but more to the criminal thriller sense. The cinematography is interesting, as the camera shifts from one character to the next, focusing on Doug as he hunts the killer, and then to the people in the past, who feel as though they are being watched.
Deja Vu also shares a common theme with Man on Fire, sacrifice. Where one man seeks to change the world, and by doing so, gives up himself in order to see it through, even at the expense to his own life, on several occasions. It also sees evil portrayed by individuals who are misguided in their ways, and would do anything to prove their point, even if it means the deaths of hundreds of innocents.
All in all, I left the cinema feeling very satisfied, and I would like to recommend this movie to anyone else in the mood for a good Friday evening.
Peace. I'm off.