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Review: Deja Vu

Writers just love getting their hands on an excuse to do a time travel story. This shallow tale wades out into the murky waters but rarely immerses itself fully in the potential scientific and philosophical implications of what the characters claim they are doing. The result is a story that only works if you go with it and just accept things happen for narrative reasons and the magic time travel device is just there to do whatever needs it needs to do to accomplish that

ATF Agent Doug Carlin is this film’s identity of the standard Denzel Washington investigator savant character, so he’s a no-nonsense clear thinker with Sherlock Holmes’ observational skills and deductive reasoning abilities. A ferry full of sailors blows up while it crosses the Mississippi at New Orléans on Mardi Gras. Doug is one of several investigators on the scene. He gets spotted by FBI agent Paul Pryzwarra (Val Kilmer) who is impressed by his cool investigator skills so he recruits him to a super secret squad who have a magic time traveling spying machine that can give them a God’s eye view of anything anywhere within the range of the machine but it can only see what happening 4 days 6 hours into the past, no earlier and no later. It has something to do with Einstein’s rosy bridge according Dr Alexander Denny (Adam Goldberg) the scientist who accidentally tore a hole in the universe. It is two-way but it takes a lot of energy to send mass through it and it kills animals going through it (or crushes them into a tiny massively dense points of unspecific matter). You can probably see how this will go, but for now they use it to spy on people to see any sign of someone who might want to blow a bunch.. sorry, blow-up a bunch of sailors. They want Doug to use his unique abilities to tell them where to point their magic cameras. Doug has info on the dead body of Claire Kuchever (Paula Patton) who was found in the river but had died before the ferry explosion from the same type of burns as the victims on the ferry. The car bomb that blew up the ferry was also in her van so Doug has them spy on her (you can see why they needed Doug’s amazing deductive skills here).

Doug had the hots for Claire when she was a crispy-fried corpse so obviously he falls for her when he sees her walking and breathing (and showering) in the past. But Doug’s really not satisfied with just watching what happened in the past, he wants to change it. He sends a message back for himself but his partner Larry picks it up instead so rather than dying on the ferry Larry gets shot and his body is fed to the alligators. To get there was a pretty amazing, and very stupid, car chase with Doug following the bomber in the present day as the bomber drives to his base in the past, using a portable helmet version of the big magic box. Now they know the bomber is Carrol Oerstadt (Jim Caviezel) who is one of those paranoid nuts engaged in a personal war with the American Government. He is arrested and the FBI are happy with lone maniac story so they shut down the magic box.

No film would be accepted with a story that ended like that and we already have the rest all set up so inevitably Doug is going to back in time, rescue the girl, get the bad guy and save the day. At this point there is plenty of hints that this not the first time, lots of little clues that another version of Doug had already tried and failed to change events at least once before (or three times according this timeline from Wikipedia). I have to say this plot is clearly driven by the director’s desire to tell the story his way with little attention to logic or stopping to explain itself to anyone thinking “Wait a minute , what…” There is something exhilarating about being along for the ride on Tony Scott film and despite my snarky tone I did enjoy this one.

Rating 6/10

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Posted by on August 21, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Film Review: Unstoppable

In a rail yard in Pennsylvania a total idiot called Dewey (Ethan Suplee who plays Earl’s brother Randy in My Name is Earl) screws up badly while driving a massive freight train No.777. This train is full of dangerous cargo so Dewey naturally enough doesn’t bother connecting the air brakes then jumps off the train to change points. The train speeds off without him. Disaster looms but the scale is not quite grasped as they think the train is coasting without power

We learn a bit about rookie conductor Will (Chris Pine) and experienced driver Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington). Union and company politics means Frank faces enforced retirement to make way for younger cheaper workers such as Will Colson (and of course Dewey). Will screws up by attaching five too many cars to the train but Frank keeps going instead of going back and detaching the other cars.

Connie Hooper (Rosario Dawson) the yard master gets her chief welder Ned Oldham along with Dewey and another idiot Gilleece to try and intercept the train at a siding. That’s when they realise the train is not coasting but is going full throttle and will very likely go off the rails in a heavily populated area, mostly likely into a large fuel dump in the town of Stanton just positioned right under a large S-bend in an elevated section of the track and seemingly designed to result in maximum carnage.

Before that we have a train that is full of school kids on a special train safety awareness trip and their train is heading straight for 777. The tension builds as precious little angels sing stupid rail safety songs and the driver turns into a siding and narrowly avoids blood and death for himself and all the little brats.

When 777 obliterates a horse box the media soon take an interest. Police and media helicopters buzz around the train and the company vice-president of train operations Oscar Galvin takes charge of trying to stop 777. His mad plan is getting a little train to push it from the front to slow it down enough for a helicopter to smash an ex-marine on a rope into the window of the drivers cabin. As you’d expect hitting the runaway train with a smashed up marine on rope does very little to slow it down very much. And for extra fun the little train that couldn’t derails in a ball of flames and a dead driver.

After Franks and Will’s train has a close encounter with 777 (thanks to the five extra cars) Frank comes up with a plan a little less psychotic than Galvin’s. After Galvin fails yet again with a plan to derail the train in a little town it’s all up to Frank and Will to stop 777.

I really liked the action scenes and the use of the news clips was quite well done – nice way to build up the tension by having it done by rolling news coverage. I suppose they had to get in all that character stuff as well but I wasn’t too interested in that. At first I thought Chris Pine was some sort of kiddie stalker but don’t worry, it’s just his kid and he’s separated from his wife, gun – threats – restraining order blah blah blah. Chris Pine didn‘t really convince me of any of that stuff at all. Fortunately he is okay at the action scenes.

 

Rating 6/10

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004INGLYO

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0477080/

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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