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DHS- Deja Vu (2006) alternate poster

Déjà Vu is a 2006 American Action-SciFi Thriller film directed by Tony Scott, written by Bill Marsilii and Terry Rossio, and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. The film stars Denzel Washington and Paula Patton as the main characters, with Jim Caviezel, Val Kilmer, Adam Goldberg, Bruce Greenwood, and Matt Craven in supporting roles. Déjà Vu involves ATF agent Douglas Carlin, who travels back in time in attempts to prevent a domestic terrorist attack that takes place in New Orleans and to save a woman with whom he falls in love, Claire Kuchever. Filming took place in New Orleans before and after Hurricane Katrina.[1] The film premiered in New York City on November 20, 2006, and was released widely in the United States and Canada two days later. The film was released in Mexico by the end of November, and worldwide by the early months of 2007. It received mixed reviews from critics, and the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes' compiled ratings give the film an average rating of 55%. While earning $64 million in the U.S., the film went on to gross $180 million worldwide; Déjà Vu was the 23rd most successful film worldwide for 2006. The film was nominated for five awards, and won the Golden Reel Award.


Template:Plot On Tuesday, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the ferry Sen. Alvin T. Stumpf is carrying hundreds of U.S. Navy sailors and their families from the Algiers dock to a celebration, when it explodes and sinks, killing at least 543 on board. Special Agent Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigates and discovers evidence that the attack was committed by a domestic terrorist.

He briefly meets with the investigating police officers and U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Paul Pryzwarra (Val Kilmer), then returns to his office, where he is given a phone message. Doug calls the woman back, but no one answers so he leaves a message. He then is told of a partially burned body pulled from the river, which was discovered and reported to authorities before the ferry explosion took place. The dead woman, Claire Kuchever (Paula Patton), appears to be in her early thirties, and was apparently bound and gagged before her death.

To determine whether a connection exists between Claire's death and the explosion, Doug goes to Claire's house. He finds the phrase "U can save her" written out in magnetic letters on her refrigerator next to a clipping of an ad she placed to sell her used SUV. While listening to the messages on her answering machine, he hears three calls, including the message that he himself had left a few hours before. He realizes that Claire was the woman who had tried to call him earlier.

Doug brings his findings to Special Agent Pryzwarra, concluding that the terrorist had contacted Claire because he needed her truck to get the explosives onto the ferry, then killed her, dumping her burned body in the river to make her look like another victim of the bombing. Pryzwarra is impressed with Doug's detective expertise, and asks him to assist a newly formed federal detective unit led by scientist Dr. Alexander Denny (Adam Goldberg). They investigate the events leading up to the explosion by using a new program called "Snow White", which enables them to look at events 4 days in the past. The system is limited in that they can only see past events once; there is no fast forwarding or rewinding, although they can record what they see.

Convinced that Claire is a vital link to the case, Doug persuades the team to focus on her. While the team investigates Claire's recent past through "Snow White", Doug begins to suspect that there is more to the program than he has been told. They listen as the bomber calls about purchasing her car, a red SUV. Claire unwisely gives him her address, but he then tells her he has decided not to purchase her car. During the phone call the "Snow White" team is able to learn an exact time that the terrorist will be surveilling the dock the night before placing the vehicle with the bomb on the ferry.

Doug surreptitiously tries an unauthorized experiment on "Snow White" with a laser pointer, which temporarily blows the system. He confronts the team and they reluctantly tell him that "Snow White" is actually a time window, and is also capable of sending inanimate objects into the past. He asks if it is possible to change past events, and the team confirms that it can be done, but only by creating a new time line, which could cause unforeseen consequences. Despite Denny's protests, Doug has the team send a note back in time to inform his past self where and when to intercept the ferry bomber. The team sends the note back to the office occupied by Doug and his partner Larry Minuti (Matt Craven). To the team's dismay, 'past Doug' leaves the room before seeing the note and Larry picks it up.

Larry decides to follow the lead and, while confronting the terrorist on the ferry dock, is shot through the car door of the terrorist's black SUV. The terrorist flees, taking the seriously wounded Minuti with him, while the team follow him through the program, but he goes out of range of "Snow White." A frantic Doug is told the only way to extend "Snow White's" range is to follow in a vehicle specially equipped with a portable unit. With the team (who capture a clear view of the terrorist's face) guiding him, Doug, in the present, ends up at the terrorist's home, a bait shack in the bayou. Doug sees a deserted, blasted building containing a crashed ambulance, while the "Snow White" team sees the building as it was four days before—intact, with no ambulance in sight. As Doug searches the ruin, finding no one, the members of the team are forced to watch in horror as the terrorist kills Minuti in the past, before driving away.

Using a facial recognition system, the "Snow White" team identify the ferry bomber, who is revealed to be self-proclaimed patriot Carroll Oerstadt (Jim Caviezel). An ATF SWAT team tracks him into the swamp and captures him. Oerstadt is angry at the U.S. government after being turned down for enlistment by the Marine Corps and Army, who believed Oerstadt was psychologically unstable. During questioning in a lockup, Oerstadt tells Doug that he only needed Claire's truck for the bombing because his own truck had bullet holes in it after the confrontation with Minuti on the ferry dock. Oerstadt further discusses his motive and his belief in destiny, and finally admits to the crime, which satisfies Pryzwarra. Considering the case closed, the government shuts down the "Snow White" unit's part in the investigation. However, Doug is deeply troubled by the realization that he himself had caused the deaths of Minuti and Claire by sending the note back in time. Doug persuades Denny to send Doug himself to the past to save Claire and stop the ferry bombing. The procedure is risky, as until then no human had been sent through, and doing so could mean death to the time traveler.

The trip through time lands Doug in a hospital, in convulsions, where he is stabilized by medical personnel. He returns to consciousness in the hospital the morning of the ferry explosion. Taking clothes belonging to another patient, he steals an ambulance and races to Oerstadt's hideout, crashing through the gate and into the side of the shack just as Oerstadt is about to burn the unconscious Claire. Doug is wounded in a shootout with Oerstadt, who blows up the house and flees in Claire's red SUV with the bomb inside, believing he has killed both Doug and Claire in the explosion.

Carlin escapes with Claire in Oerstadt's SUV, stopping at Claire's apartment so Doug can tend to his wounds. When they arrive he writes the phrase that he had seen earlier with the magnets on her refrigerator while Claire changes. But she pulls a gun on him, suspicious because he already knew where she lived, and suggests that he is the terrorist himself. She calls his agency to find his true identity, and the clerk at the ATF accurately describes him. After Doug explains briefly how he knows about her, and correctly predicts the messages on her phone before she plays them, she drops the gun and helps him to dress his wounds.

Doug and Claire go to the ferry dock. Doug intends to board the ferry and attempt to disarm the bomb, and he asks Claire to stay behind and alert security. Oerstadt, leaving the scene, recognizes his own SUV parked outside and runs back to the ferry, realizing that Doug and Claire survived the explosion at his shack. Claire jumps onto the ferry just as it pulls away from the dock, hoping to warn Doug, but is caught by Oerstadt, gagged, and bound in the driver's seat of her own bomb-laden car. A suspicious security guard who confronts Oerstadt is shot and killed, resulting in a standoff between the ferry's security force, Doug, and Oerstadt. Doug catches Claire's eye and signals her to start the car's engine, while he distracts Oerstadt by reciting key parts of their conversation in the lockup, so that Claire can pin him with her car. Doug shoots Oerstadt, killing him, and rushes to the SUV to free Claire, but is then held at gunpoint by the security force. To save everyone on the ferry, Doug and Claire drive the SUV with the bomb off the ferry into the water just before it explodes. Doug helps Claire escape, but he is unable to get out and dies in the underwater explosion. As the intact ferry returns to the dock, Claire is rescued by a harbor patrol boat and brought back to the landing, where she is approached by the Doug Carlin of the 'new' present, who knows her only as a witness to the explosion. As they drive off, the Beach Boys' song "Don't Worry Baby" plays on the radio.


  • Denzel Washington as ATF Special Agent Douglas Carlin
  • Paula Patton as Claire Kuchever
  • Jim Caviezel as Carroll Oerstadt
  • Val Kilmer as FBI Special Agent Paul Pryzwarra
  • Adam Goldberg as Dr. Alexander Denny
  • Bruce Greenwood as FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Jack McCready
  • Matt Craven as ATF Special Agent Larry Minuti
  • Enrique Castillo as Claire's father
  • Elden Henson as Gunnars
  • Erika Alexander as Shanti

A topological representation almost identical to Greene's idea as used in the film to explain a wormhole.

Background and production[]

The idea of a time travel-thriller film originated between screenwriters Bill Marsilii and Terry Rossio, who communicated via email in attempts to develop the plot due to communication difficulties.[2] However, the creation of Déjà VuTemplate:'s progenitor was set aside by the September 11, 2001 attacks that disrupted New York-native Marsilii,[2] and the advent of the 2003 film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, which occupied Los Angeles-native Rossio.[2][3] However, by 2006, the two screenwriters had completed the concept. Brian Greene from Columbia University was brought in as a consultant to help create a scientifically plausible feel to the script.[2] Greene stated "the way I try to explain wormholes in terms of bending paper and connecting the corners, that's there in the film and it was fun to see that that made it in."[4][5] The screenwriters submitted their work to Jerry Bruckheimer, who with Tony Scott were searching for new ideas for a feature film.[2]


Principal photography in New Orleans, Louisiana, was delayed following Hurricane Katrina because of the devastation caused by the storm and the collapse of the levees.[1][6] Many of the exteriors were set to be shot in New Orleans, including a key sequence involving the Canal Street Ferry across the Mississippi River.[6] After the city was reopened, the cast and crew returned to New Orleans to continue filming. Some scenes of the post-Katrina devastation were worked into the plot, including those in the Lower 9th Ward; additionally, evidence of Katrina's impact on the city was worked into the script.[1] The filming crew spent two weeks filming a scene at the Four Mile Bayou in Morgan City, Louisiana.[7]

According to director Tony Scott, Déjà Vu was written to take place on Long Island, but after a visit to New Orleans Scott felt that it would be a far better venue.[8] Jerry Bruckheimer reportedly said that Denzel Washington was "adamant about returning to New Orleans to film after Hurricane Katrina devastated the region", but Washington recalled to be neutral on the subject, while agreeing that it was "a good thing to spend money there and put people to work there".[9]

To create a sense of realism, Scott and Washington interviewed numerous men and women whose real-life occupations pertained to positions in the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Washington has noted that he and Scott conducted similar research during the productions of Man on Fire and Crimson Tide.[9]

Visual effects[]

Visual effects editor Marc Varisco, who had previously collaborated with director Scott on the 2005 film Domino, worked again with Scott to develop Déjà Vu into a fully-fledged work. In total, approximately 400 visual effects scenes were shot during the production of Déjà Vu.[10] They had acquired a LIDAR device, which incorporated lasers to scatter light with the intent of mapping out a small region, during the production of Domino; Scott and Varisco decided to use the apparatus again during the production of Déjà Vu.[10] Additionally, the two utilized the Panavision Genesis high definition camera to film the shots that would encompass the past that the Snow White team would peer at throughout the film, as well as the various night scenes.[10] The LIDAR apparatus, which was operated by a hired Texan company devoted to the device, performed scans of Claire Kuchever's apartment, the ferry, the ATF office, and actress Paula Patton, among others.[10] Effects editor Zachary Tucker combined the elements created by the Texan LIDAR company with computer-generated graphics to make possible the scenes of time-travel experienced in the film.[10]

The explosion of the Stumpf was filmed using an actual New Orleans ferry in a portion of the Mississippi River sectioned off especially for the event; the occurrence took over four hours to prepare.[10] Under the supervision of pyrotechnics expert John Frazier, the ferry was coated entirely with fire retardant and rigged with fifty gasoline bombs including black dirt and diesel, each one set to detonate within a five-second range.[11] People and cars were added in later as elements of computer-generated graphics.[10] Chris Lebenzon was largely responsible for moving clips from each of the sixteen cameras in place to create the sensation of an extended explosion sequence.[11] The spectacular explosion actually caused no significant structural damage to the ferry; after a bout of sandblasting and repainting, the ferry was very similar to its previous state.[10] The ferry was returned into service four days after the production of the film's scene concluded.[11] During filming of the underwater car scenes, actual cars were dropped into the water; computer-generated effects were later added, simulating the entities' explosions. Compositing was done on the Autodesk Inferno special effects program.[10]

Similarities between Timothy McVeigh and Carroll Oerstadt[]

Jim Caviezel's character, Carroll Oerstadt, seemed to mirror in several ways the story of Timothy McVeigh, a domestic terrorist who destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City with a bomb in 1995. Caviezel and Scott[8] did not deny this, and both admitted that the Oerstadt character was at least partly based on McVeigh.[12] Ross Johnson of The New York Times also compared the ferry bombing at the film's beginning to the Oklahoma City bombing.[11]


Déjà Vu received mixed to negative reviews and has a rating of 55% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 156 reviews with an average score of 5.9 out of 10. The consensus states "Tony Scott tries to combine action, science fiction, romance, and explosions into one movie, but the time travel conceit might be too preposterous and the action falls apart under scrutiny."[13] The film also has a score of 59 out of 100 based on Metacritic based on 32 reviews.[14]

Joel Siegel of ABC News called the film technically "well-made," but criticized its attempt to describe a supposedly scientific basis for time travel as both silly and dull,[15] as did Manohla Dargis of The New York Times, who additionally found the depiction of parishes decimated by Hurricane Katrina "vulgar".[16] Todd Gilchrist from IGN rated the film eight out of ten, calling it a "bravura set piece", despite an ending that "feels inappropriate given the urgency (and seeming inevitability) of the story's dénouement."[17] Likewise, Michael Wilmington of the Orlando Sentinel rated the film three out of four stars, citing the "good cast, Tony Scott's swift direction, and unyielding professionalism" as rationale for his rating.[18] Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times described the film's exploration of the nature of time and the implications of time travel as having been a "sci-fi staple for generations".[19]

Film writers and director[]

Both Terry Rossio and Bill Marsilii have acknowledged that the film was not shot the way they had wanted it to be, shifting the blame to director Tony Scott and his goal to focus more on the action aspect of the film than on the more meaningful plot the screenplay had called for. Marsilii, although "quite critical of the mistakes made," said he was proud of the finished product.[20] Rossio, however, was so put off during filming that he, as of May 2008, had not seen the film.[21] Rossio complained that Scott had ignored the inclusion of important plot details from the screenplay whenever "there was something he wanted to do" instead.[22] In the DVD commentary, Scott admits that he thought he did a mediocre job shooting [the chase scene].[23]

Rossio and Marsilii believe that many of the negative reviews of Déjà Vu are a direct result of Scott's direction of the film, and have stated that "Tony Scott added nothing to Déjà Vu and made several hundred small mistakes and about eight or nine deadly mistakes",[24] which makes the film seem like it has many unforgivable plot holes, when it should not have had any. "[T]here are no plot holes at all, and scrutiny reveals the plot to be air tight." says Rossio. "We had years to think of all this and work it out."[25] It was felt there were many misunderstandings that Scott's take on the plot introduced into the film. In his own defense, Scott cited in an interview with Iain Blair of BNET that only nineteen weeks were provided for the production of the film, which "isn't a lot for a film like Déjà Vu."[26]

Box office[]

Déjà Vu premiered in New York City on November 20, 2006, two days before its wide release in all of the United States and Canada. Alongside Mexico, the three countries were the sole nations to open the film in November. The United Kingdom opened the film on December 15, 2006, and was followed shortly thereafter by New Zealand on December 22. Australia was the last English-speaking country where the film premiered, on January 18, 2007.[27]

The film opened in the #3 spot with $20.5 million in 3,108 theaters, an average of $6,619 per theater. Déjà Vu ran for fourteen weeks, staying in the top ten for its first three weeks. The U.S. domestic box office earnings for the film were $64,038,616, and the total worldwide box office earnings were $180,557,550. These earnings made Déjà Vu the 23rd most successful film of 2006 worldwide.[28]


Although reviews from critics were mixed, Déjà Vu was nominated for six different awards, winning one.

Déjà Vu was nominated for the Saturn Award in the category "Best Science Fiction Film", but lost to Children of Men.[29]

Paula Patton, who played Claire Kuchever, was nominated for "Best Breakthrough Performance" for the Black Reel Awards. The award was won by Brandon T. Jackson for his performance in the film Roll Bounce.[30]

Harry Gregson-Williams, the composer of the film's soundtrack, was nominated for the "Film Composer of the Year" division of the World Soundtrack Academy Awards (the award was won by Alexandre Desplat for his score with The Queen).[31]

Déjà Vu received two nominations pertaining to the "Best Fire Stunt" and the "Best Work with a Vehicle", while it won the International Gold Reel Award at the Nielsen EDI Gold Reel Awards ceremonies.[32]

Home media[]

Déjà Vu was released to DVD and home video approximately five months after its release in American theaters, on April 24, 2007. In the two weeks succeeding the day of the DVD's release, the film was the second most-purchased DVD in the United States.[33] It was second only to Night at the Museum during this period in time.[34][35]

Special features on the disc include an audio commentary from director Tony Scott for both the film and its deleted scenes. The DVD cover also includes a "Surveillance Window" feature, which includes featurettes on the film's production in New Orleans.[36]


The track listing for Déjà Vu largely borrows music not originally produced for the film; three of the songs that make an appearance in Déjà Vu uphold elements of soul and gospel. "Don't Worry Baby" by The Beach Boys simulated the actual concept of déjà vu, as detailed in the plot.

Songwriters such as Harry Gregson-Williams contributed music to the film; artists like Charmaine Neville and Macy Grey performed music especially for the film.[37]

The music featured in the film's trailer was titled "Hello Zepp", the main theme for Saw.

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