A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this violent thriller has been targeted more at adults than kids, but some teens will be interested. With the movie's terrorism storyline, it's not surprising that there are explosions, car crashes, fights, and shootings -- which result in burned, bloody, beaten, and drowned bodies. Weapons include knives, guns, bombs, and vehicles. In one scene, scientists and authorities watch voyeuristically as a woman undresses and showers in her apartment. Characters argue loudly and discuss motivations for terrorism alongside religious faith, and in one sad scene, a father grieves his daughter's murder. The language is very tame for a PG-13 film.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
A thriller with a science-fiction twist, DDJJ VU begins with a terrorist attack -- a bomb explodes aboard a ferry carrying Navy sailors on leave. Among the authorities trying to sort out the crime scene is ATF agent Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington), who's particularly good at reading details. His acute interpretations of bomb residues, bodies, and video surveillance tapes draw the attention of FBI special agent Pryzwarra (Val Kilmer), who recruits Doug for a special anti-terrorism team. Complications arise when Doug learns that one woman's body (Claire) shows signs of the explosion -- even though she died minutes before the bomb went off. The FBI trots out surveillance technology that enables them to observe her last few days, hoping that she'll lead them to the terrorist. Doug quickly figures out that this set-up isn't what it appears to be – the FBI has the ability to "warp the very fabric of space."
Is it any good?
Washington's focused performance holds the movie's various generic and thematic strands together. Doug is certainly an intrepid and even romantic hero, devoting himself to Claire's case. But he's also a believably skeptical detective, and his questions about motives and technologies tend to mirror the audience's. This third collaboration between Washington and director Tony Scott (the others being 2004's Man on Fire and 1995's Crimson Tide) combines elaborate stunts and psychological ambiguities in order to challenge audience expectations.
The effectiveness of this combination is manifest in the movie's characterization of suspect Carroll Oerstadt (Jim Caviezel). His desire for revenge against the U.S. military is at once personal and political, with oblique connections to current recruitment concerns as well as definitions of "patriotism." Such details make Déjà Vu, although uneven, more intriguing than the usual action thriller.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the concept of déjà vu: How does it provide a dramatic hook for a movie? What are the characters' different motivations (revenge, self-sacrifice, desire, revulsion, science, faith, etc.)? How do different motivations lead to different results? Families can also discuss the possibilities of time travel. What would you change about your own behavior if you could go back in time? Did you know this movie was about time travel before you saw it? Do you think marketers and producers consciously chose to downplay that angle? Why?
- In theaters: November 21, 2006
- On DVD or streaming: April 24, 2007
- Cast: Denzel Washington, Paula Patton, Val Kilmer
- Director: Tony Scott
- Studio: Touchstone Pictures
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 125 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of violence and terror, disturbing images and some sensuality.