Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Deja Vu (2006)

I probably would never have seen this had Nobody not continually recommended it, but now that I've seen it I'm glad I gave it a shot.

As I've mentioned before, I hate the editing style that Tony Scott developed, starting with his BMW short film and continuing through Man on Fire and Domino. Fortunately, Scott leaves those shenanigans behind for Deja Vu. He uses them a bit for the special gimmick of the movie, but it is unobtrusive and appropriate.

Boy, if there was ever a movie made for Nobody's particular thematic obsession, this is it. The ideas of the audience as voyeur and the director as god are central to the movie, in a completely literal way. Here's a quick set-up: a ferry explodes in New Orleans, and looks to be the work of a domestic terrorist. Denzel is brought in to investigate, and discovers through Val Kilmer that the Go'mnt has discovered a way to look back in time to view crimes from different angles and POVs. They have a big screening room where they have a "camera man" zoom around looking for clues as they happen. Denzel is brought in to view the "unedited finished film," but discovers that it might be possible to change the events. So he goes from being an audience member to a late-production director.

I thought it was interesting that Scott included an example of what people typically think of when they hear the word "voyeur," too, by actually having the "audience members" watch a woman getting undressed and getting in the shower. What if audiences could actually control the movie they were watching? If the audience were made up of a bunch of sexually-deprived nerds, they'd watch girls getting undressed and taking showers, just as the control room guys do in the movie, while the only woman they're with rolls her eyes.

The other interesting question the movie raises is, "What if the guy who was peeping on you was Denzel Washington?" The answer is, "Well, you'd fall in love with him if he saved your life."

Deja Vu works as a purely entertaining movie as well. Denzel throws a couple new tics into his performance (odd laughs at odd times), but it's still pretty much Denzel being Denzel. I don't have the problem with him that Jeri does, however, so I enjoyed it just fine. :) The idea of whether or not you can change the past and the ramifications of that are handled well, and it kept me guessing for quite a while about whether this would end up in 12 Monkeys territory or not. The ending gave a really odd feeling. It's both happy and sad at the same time, kind of a Schrödinger's cat type thing.

It's interesting playing with the idea of time travel, especially in those instances where you could exist in two different places at once. If time travel were possible, it would negate the existence of a soul, wouldn't it (especially if the branching universe theory were correct)? I mean a soul according to Christian theology.

**spoilers ahead**

I'm thinking in terms of the end of this movie. If you went back in time, stopped an event that would have caused your past self to go back as well, but you were then killed in the past, a distinct person was still killed, even though your past self will now live on and not repeat what you did. A unique version of Denzel was killed, but another unique version lived. They were both unique and ensouled (is that a Greg Koukl word?) persons, and so while one gave up his ghost, the other still existed in his corporeal form.

**end spoilers**

The branching universe theory is the only one that makes sense to me as a plausible time travel explanation. For it to work, the idea that you an utterly unique person in the universe would have to be false, unless God is incarnating millions of slightly different versions of you all the time. The multiverse theory is also used by Michael Crichton in Timeline, too (the book, I mean -- I haven't seen the movie).

So, an enjoyable movie. Thanks, Nobody.

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