DVD Review: 'Deja Vu'
Extras are plentiful, but inconvenient
New on DVD this Tuesday (April 23), "Deja Vu" doesn't hold up particularly well on review, but the DVD package is filled with enough extras to keep fans busy.
Washington plays a federal agent brought in to investigate a New Orleans ferry explosion. He's quickly recruited to assist a high-tech government project looking into the bombing, a surveillance system that allows its users to look into the past for clues to solve crimes. And if that sounds ridiculous, wait til you see what else the gizmo can do.
The script by Bill Marsilii and Terry Rossio is full of structural problems and excessive exposition, but Scott delivers several exceptional set pieces, including a half-virtual/half-real bridge car chase, though even he can't distract attention from how unengaging these characters are in the time-traveling second half. The first film to shoot in post-Katrina New Orleans, "Deja Vu" manages to make fine use of the city as a backdrop without ever fully integrating the story into the muggy environs.
In keeping with the film's chronological trickery, the DVD's main bonus feature is 37 minutes worth of featurettes titled "The Surveillance Window." The little docs provide behind-the-scenes peeks at all of the film's obvious big moments -- the chase, the opening ferry explosion, the construction of the time window, etc. The catch: "The Surveillance Window" feature inserts the individual featurette pods into the movie itself, pausing at various intervals to show how certain effects were achieved and then returning to the action. I was unable to figure out how to disengage the pods from the movie, and as interesting as certain pods are, "Deja Vu" was already an excessively long feature (126 minutes) to begin with. Adding another 37 minutes makes it a pretty big time commitment.
You aren't just sitting there watching the movie between pods, though. Scott, Marsilii and producer Jerry Bruckheimer fill the gaps with informative, albeit dry, commentary. A running theme is the clash between Marsilii's interest in science fiction and Scott's craving to make the movie "science fact." I regret to say that the filmmaker's attempts to excuse and justify the relative plausibility of the script doesn't make things better.
An additional eight minutes of deleted scenes show an admirable desire to trim fat (and scenes with Elle Fanning) from the script, though Washington lost a nice speech about a turtle to the cutting room floor. Another five minutes of extended scenes were best unextended.