All Things TV: Review – Deja Vu

Deja Vu is a 2006 science fiction time travel movie, presently on Amazon Prime, directed by Tony Scott, written by Bill Marsilii and Terry Rossio, starring Denzel Washington, Paula Patton, Jim Caviezel, and Val Kilmer.

Warning: Spoilers.

Besides the pure entertainment value and joy of watching the chemistry between Denzel and Paula—both equally hot and delicious—I love to re-watch these films searching for anything I missed previously while philosophically pondering on the many questions and answers I had and have both then and now. There’s also the continued ongoing pursuit of science and seeing if, by any chance, with this next viewing, I’ll maybe understand it—sigh!—which happens occasionally. I’ll be the first to admit, my science knowledge sucks.

This film grapples with the destiny-fate question—do you believe in a pre-determined path. First, we should probably specify and ask ourselves on what destiny or fate purview are we discussing, which is a philosophically and scientifically longer answer because of perception or interpretation of the word ‘destiny’ or ‘fate’—whose or what perception of destiny or fate are we fulfilling? A higher power? In the form of what? A deity(s)? State or government? Religion? An economic system? Corporation or employer? A family, mate or partner? Or our own powerif we have any?

For me, the shorter answer is no, I personally don’t believe in destiny or fate; perhaps in some parallel dimension out there, a destiny (or many) may be realized—though statistically, not likely, but maybe… I try not to deal in absolutes even though I’m an atheist, go figure. I do, however, understand and acknowledge chain reactions and the self-propagating chain of events that could statistically predict events given the right amount of data (think metaphorically, like a snowball effect or the Fringe episode ‘The Plateau’).

The question though, again, comes back to who or what will be pulling those puppet strings, if anything is pulling them. Facebook or Google and the like, given the amount of data they know about you, creates algorithms that can statistically predict things about you—like, for example, if you believe in unreasonable conspiracy theories and tend to veer towards the irrational with magical or biased thinking; or if you are self-directed and self-disciplined and deliberate with critical thinking skills allowing fact-based evidence, reason and self-corrective thinking to guide you in addition to conquering and overcoming egocentrism and any maladjusted beliefs, behaviors or attitudes like racism, xenophobia or ethnocentrism.

Or, if you simply like lots of cat videos while attempting to avoid your crazy family that binges on Fox News and Breitbart while also spending oodles of money shopping on Instagram.

Same with anyone or thing that has any kind of power or influence over you. With the ability to acquire data, an entity(s) can statistically predict a number of outcomes whereby conferring eventual aftereffects or events. Ultimately, data is power and whoever has that power has the ability to predetermine paths to a certain degree. I urge you to think about that before you blithely hand over enormous amounts of information to any entity(s).

Anywho…I digress.

This movie is not your basic time travel movie, but has some of the same characteristics. The time-folding explanation has become part and parcel to this genre. What slapped me in the face this time around (it may have on last viewing—I don’t remember) was this Denzel scene (I pulled it from a script site; forgive the untidiness):

Hey, let me ask you something. Is she alive or is she dead?
You went to her funeral, Doug.
I know that, but I think the question still applies. Is she alive or is she dead?
All right. Life, like time and space, is not merely a local phenomenon.
All right!
Am I asking a hard question?
Looks like I picked a bad week to stop snorting hash.
All right, I tell you what. I’ll speak slow, so those of you with Ph.D.’s in the room can understand. It… Here. Look. Here’s a monitor, right? Now the monitor is broken. It’s dead. It is not temporarily transitioned to another state of entropy. It’s dead, right? Now, is she alive or is she dead?
She’s alive.
All right. Now we’re getting somewhere.

Are Claire Kuchever and the hundreds of domestic terrorism victims of the ferry boat explosion Schrödinger’s cat?

A special division and program, Snow White, is a time window (box?) into the past. There are plot holes here that apparently the writers had worked through with theoretical physicist Brian Greene, but Scott, the director, willfully ignored and changed (oh yeah, TPTB that tend to ruin things—we know about those, don’t we). I would love to see a more cerebral reboot of the script the writers originally intended.

The question eventually becomes can you change the past or is the past the past or someone’s future.

Another big moral question at the heart of this movie is the value of life and why saving one life could lead to saving more lives and that fundamentally, it’s about saving as many lives as you can (something the U.S. apparently needs to philosophically and systemically scrutinize and broach much more deeply given the casual disregard for lives in general during the 2020 pandemic and BLACK LIVES MATTER—what does PRO-LIFE mean?).

How the Snow White team wrestles with the philosophy and science and the power they may have with determining people’s fate (again, apologies for the untidiness):

Sure. We know where the guy’s gonna be.
We can apprehend him and put him away
before he even blows up the boat.
And how do we do that, exactly?
We send it to ourselves! You send it to me. Yeah, send it to me. Send it to my office. Send it to my office four and a half days ago, an anonymous tip, and we can capture this guy before he even meets Claire. We know he’s gonna be at the dock.
Whatever you did, you did it already.
Whether you send this note or you don’t send this note, it doesn’t matter.
You cannot change the past. It’s physically impossible.
What if there’s more than physics?
Okay. Something spiritual, right?
Yeah, something spiritual.
Okay, okay, okay. Look. Just try to think of it this way. God’s mind is made up about this. All right?
I mean, you know, call it fate, call it destiny, whatever.
But it already happened, it will keep happening, and it always will happen.
Maybe. And why don’t we call it fate, since we’re calling it something?

There are so many good scenes in this movie: The extended scene where they grapple with watching the murder of Matt Craven, Doug’s partner Minuti, and not being able to do anything about it—the horror and compassion in the faces of Erika Alexander (MAX!), Elden Henson (Foggy from Daredevil), and Denzel’s Doug upon realizing that he just sent his partner to his death; how Adam Goldberg (recall Joey’s crazy roommate Eddie from Friends) swiftly contends with the fact that he probably already sent Doug back; Jim Caviezel (playing the domestic terrorist to perfection is a bit too eerie given his filmography) explaining why he executed Doug’s partner Minuti: “I was about to burn him and he was waking up, you know? I mean, I’m not cruel.” 😳

At what appears to be the end, the Snow White team catch their domestic terrorist and pack up to head home. Doug doesn’t wanna though. He refuses to believe the past is just the past—or is the past his future? He talks Goldberg into sending him back in time where he meets and saves Claire and tells Oerstadt before killing him and saving the victims at the cost of his own life: “It’s destiny, Oerstadt. Satan reasons like a man, but God thinks of eternity.” Claire then meets the present/alternate Doug and the movie ends thus putting a spiritual and philosophical spin on a scientific conundrum.

Can the past be the past and be altered instead of reset? Can the original timeline still remain moving forward with a living Oerstadt but without Claire, Doug or the victims, all now dead, in addition to the new alternate two-roads-diverged timeline whereby Claire and the victims and present/alternate Doug are alive, and the perp dead? I guess it comes down to if you believe in alternate and parallel dimensions or a multiverse. Or is it all playing out as a part of a larger plan, like eternity? Perhaps both?

There was another line that caught me unawares on this viewing from Denzel’s Doug: “I’ve been trying to catch people after they do something horrible. For once in my life, I’d like to catch somebody before they do something horrible.” 🤔 Time to watch Minority Report. Also, it’s been days and I still have this song in my head (AmazonSpotify). 🙃


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