Deja Vu: I wanted to like it (spoilers, of course)

I really did.

My sister and I had our hearts set on Fast Food Nation, but it was sold out. I didn’t want to see Borat or the newest iteration of Jack Black (to my sister’s chagrine), so the only option was Deja Vu. Neither one of us knew what the movie was about, but as soon as we saw the poster with Denzel Washington on it, we were like, “Hell, yeah!”

In other words, we were willing to see a movie based strictly on who was playing in it. So I guess you can say we deserved what we got.

The premise seemed a guaranteed winner: Savvy cop gets involved in a terrorism investigation employing top secret, mind-blowing “survelliance” technology. There’s a beautiful damsel in distress played by Paula Patton, lots of explosions and smashy car chases, a nice number of funnylines and Denzel signature smiles, geeky scientists (loved seeing Erica Alexander and Adam Goldberg working together), and a refreshing spin to the overused “time travel” device . It had everything a movie nowadays needs to be a commercial blockbuster.

Indeed, I enjoyed the movie while we were watching it, but the good feelings evaporated on the way home as we exchanged notes. By the time we got home, we’d both decided that the movie was awful. We aren’t talking about minor plotholes here. The movie ain’t swiss cheese. It’s fishnet stockings on a fat lady.

I don’t want to dislike the movie. I don’t want to think that the writers had such a low opinion of the audience’s intelligence…or that they themselves weren’t smart enough to see the problems in their storyline. So I’m asking for Dopers who’ve seen the movie to shed some light on the issues my sister and I have been chewing over. Perhaps we missed an explanation or two that would make the movie better.

[spoiler]1. Towards the beginning of the movie, as Denzel stands out on the pier with all the dead bodies pulled from the water, he notices that one of the bodies has a cell phone that rings at the same time his phone rings. This is supposed to be a clue that the dead body belongs to Future Denzel. As soon it was clear that Future Denzel was fulfilling the prophecy (crashing the ambulance, arranging the refrigerator magnets, leaving fingerprints everywhere, etc.), I knew he was “supposed” to die and the cell phone was supposed to clinch that.

However, Future Denzel was sent into the past practically naked. He didn’t have a cell phone, and he didn’t have enough time to get one. And anyway, it would have made no sense for him to have a cell phone. It wasn’t like anyone needed to call him, nor did he need to call anyone else. The ringing cell phone makes no sense.

(It occurs to me that the ringing cell phone could have belonged to his partner. But my sis and I remember Denzel answering his phone before noticing the ringing phone of the body. But maybe we remembered wrong.)

  1. Which segues into the next plothole (albeit more of a nitpick): If an explosion wouldn’t ruin your cell phone, would not submersion under 100 ft of water do the trick?

  2. Claire supposedly washes up on the shore two hours before the explosion. This happens even though Future Denzel rescues her from the wharf in both the original and alternative timelines. Why do I say this? Because in both timelines, he ends up back at her place, bandaging his wounds, spelling the words on the refrigerator. In both timelines, he makes her calls Doug Carlin’s office to leave a message. How is that girly-girl still manages to get herself killed? We know that in the original timeline, Future Denzel gets on the ferry (the cell phone thing). Claire must have been with him, even in the original timeline. Yet she still managed to die two hours before the explosion. The explosion, we are led to believe, occurred shortly after the ferry took off. So even if the bad guy saw her standing on the dock and re-abducted her, there wouldn’t have time to kill her so that she showed up on the shore at her “scheduled” time. It. Makes. No. Sense.

  3. This is more of weak writing than a plothole problem. The movie doesn’t help us understand when or why the “prophecy” derails. Leading up to the ferry part, Future Denzel has carried out everything from the original timeline. When did things change? Was it when Claire decided, at the last minute, to leap onto the moving ferry? Perhaps in the original timeline, this did not happen and Claire bumped into the bad guy. But again, this begs the question about the timing of her death. Perhaps in the original timeline, the bad guy did not see the truck parked on the side of the street. But why would he suddenly see it in the alternative scenario?

Perhaps the worm hole shows what’s happening in one scenario (the original one), but objects are transported into a parallel one–one that is similar to the original except for a few tweaks. I can buy this 100%. However, this should have been presented as an option when the geeks were brainstorming. As far as I can remember, it wasn’t. Maybe it was and I wasn’t paying attention. The writers glossed over the physics with a lot of frenzied comic relief, but the scientists were central to the whole plot. Once Denzel stepped into the chamber, Dr. Denny was completely forgotten. Why?

  1. This is a major plothole that you with the face and I have just thought of. Remember the partner? They sent him a note warning him of the terrorist attack, a note that basically sent him to his death. The investigators felt bad because they felt like they had caused his death, since this time his death was at the direct hands of the bad guy rather than indirectly by the bomb. But why would the note have changed the outcome? Just as Future Denzel was “destined” to go back and try to save Claire, why wasn’t the note similarly fated? In other words, why would the partner ever be on the ferry? My hypothesis in #4 could provide a possible solution to this quandry, but it fails in one key area. If the note was transported to an alternative timeline totally separate from the original, it should not have have affected the investigators’ timeline. But it did. The bad guy’s admission of guilt admitted as much. It. Makes. No. Sense. [/spoiler]

I’m not really goint to answer the OP. I just wanted to say that I found some details annoying while watching Deja Vu, but at some point I decided to enjoy it as I would a Borges short story – just accept the basic premise, and see what cool things happen based on that premise, and not get too hung up on the particulars. The preposterous visual powers of the seven-satellite system are an example of an annoying detail, while when DW’s character drove in one place while experiencing that place at two times simultaneously is the kind of rather thought-provoking scene I enjoyed despite such details.

I had a similar experience. I enjoyed the movie while I was watching it, but the story fell apart after seeing it.

[spoiler]They mentioned the single universe vs. multiple universe possibilities in the movie, but neither of these explain the actions in the movie. If it’s a single universe (which the bloody clothes in claire’s apartment and DW’s fingerprints all over it imply), where did the “alternate” DW come from at the end of the movie???

And if it’s a multiple universe, the bloody clothes and fingerprints wouldn’t have been there in the first timeline, assuming that DW jumped back into a different timeline (which it would HAVE to be, for there to be a “live” DW at the end of the movie. [/spoiler]

Bottom line: go see it, but don’t think about it after. :slight_smile: