« Films to watch in 2006 revisited | Filmstalker | Garden State »


Spoilers: Déjà Vu's terrible ending and major flaw

Okay, so here's the post that's going to go into very serious spoilers for the ending of Déjà Vu (Filmstalker review) and discuss why the whole film, which was running close to a five rating for the majority, dropped to a two in the last five minutes. I'm also going to point out the biggest flaw in the whole idea that just kept coming back to me and making me wonder why they didn't try it just once.

To save you all though, none of this is in the opening blurb and it's all in the main story. So if you came directly to this page, look away before you read any further, if you're reading this from the feed or through the front page, don't click on the link. That is, unless you want to know.

So, let's just talk about the big issue that kept popping up in my head throughout the film, oh and this is your last chance, this is filled with spoilers that will give away the ending and the twists.

The special team keep talking about how they can only see the exact moment four hours in the past, no other time, they can't go back further or forward, they get one chance. Except they don't. When they discover that they can send a note back those four hours the simple option is revealed, and it really is simple. I'm sure if you didn't think about it in the film you've suddenly thought about it now.

If they watch an event four hours in the past, they can just write down the relevant information on a piece of paper and return it to their own lab four hours in the past. The note would simply have to...

  1. Prove that the note comes from themselves in the future
  2. Explain how to return a note
  3. Describe what they have learned watching the past event
  4. Tell them to watch the event with this added knowledge, or if they have enough knowledge stop the event. If they don't know enough yet, watch it from another aspect, learn some more, add to the note and send it back again

They receive the note and have accumulated knowledge. So actually you would never be bound by watching one event precisely four hours ago because you could keep sending notes back in time to yourselves. This would allow them to continually attempt to save Minuti, the boat, Kuchever and even Carlin himself, without ever having to send someone back in time.

That just struck me like a brick whenever I saw something related to the time window. However, it wasn't ruining the film for me as suspension of disbelief and all that. However, the ending really did ruin the film, and this is where I feel that the scriptwriters had spent so much on the cleverness of the rest of the film and then returned to stock conventions for the ending.

I'll skip the petty part about why Oerstadt doesn't just shoot the girl and shoots everyone else in is way and leap right onto Carlin and her in the car with all the guns pointed at them. When we saw the bomb in the opening sequence the single boat employee saw the bomb in the back and recognised it, surely Carlin could have pointed them all to it, but he doesn't. Instead he sits in there, has a discussion with Kuchever, visibly engages the vehicle in drive and gives them all plenty of time to shoot them, even before the car takes off, yet no one does. Even when it takes ages to leap off the end of the boat.

Okay, past that one. While they are underwater Carlin manages to remove the steering column from the car with his bare hands, kicks out the windscreen for her to escape, and when the roof gets bashed in by the underside of the boat to stop him escaping he finds he can't break open the side windows. Try as he might with the palm of his hand.

Never mind that though, because at the same time Kuchever is managing to swim herself away while she still has her wrists taped to the heavy steering column, unable to move them, and she's swimming straight to the huge churning propeller of the boat. Amazingly, despite the size and power of the propeller in the water, she manages to swim inches past it with just her feet kicking, and the weight of that steering column attached to her bound hands.

So let's skip the part where she's rescued in seconds, and move onto where she is rescued and being looked after by the police awaiting the "now" Carlin to arrive. She's being treated well and when Carlin arrives he just smiles, puts her in the car and drives away from the crime scene. The scene where in the opening he spent what seemed like days examining, sniffing residue on bridges, picking up minute pieces of plastic, and so on. He just puts her in the car and drives off smiling and being nice just like the other police.

This is the person found with a steering column attached to her bound wrists, rescued from the water just before the car exploded, and witnessed by the armed police onboard the boat actually in the car before it drove off and exploded. Excuse me a moment, but doesn't that make her a prime suspect? If not the main witness? Wouldn't they treat her with a little more security, immediacy and haste? Not just allow her to sit there nicely, make sure she's happy, and let her have the chance to wonder off herself?

This all just struck me as contrived and of shoe-horning the story into the last allowable few minutes. I really do wish they had spent as much time on the ending as they obviously did with the rest of the story, because the rest of the story was so well written and put together.

Those were my gripes. Perhaps most people were utterly accepting of the farcical and contrived ending than I was, but honestly when these moments all occurred in quick succession I groaned audibly with disappointment.



Ok, you've convinced me. Dammit. I really liked that movie too. Now when I watch it again I will think about everything you wrote here and groan.

You're right, the ending is kind of weird. The driving away part didn't bother me though. I think as she is a main witness and she sounds convincing with the things she says, it makes sense he would be nice to her and take her down to the station for questioning (as it appears that is what he is doing).

But that whole part on the boat and the bomb and underwater and all that was was pretty loosely tied together, I agree.

And as far as the rest of the story goes, with the note and what-not, you HAVE to suspend your disbelief and just go with it. Just about any time-travel movie you have to do that with. If you look back and pick it apart, you'll find holes all over the place. So I can't agree on that point.

Anyway, this movie had the most innovative (though implausible) car chase I've ever seen. LOVED that scene. That pretty much made the movie for me.

Ramble on...

Hey Drew, totally agree with the suspension of disbelief, as I said in the review that's not what knocked the film right down for me, that was solely due to the ending.

I just thought I'd mention the point while I was writing about the end, after all it's a pretty big hole.

I saw all the holes too as I was watching it, but I still enjoyed it. As Drewbacca said, you just have to suspend belief and just go with it, I realized that right away when they started talking about time travel or whatever.

On that tho, with what you said about the notes, the film at least tried, for a while anyway, to actually conform to actual scientific theory. Everything that happens in the film, with regard to the machine thing itself, is actually possible, theoretically anyway. They said that what the machine did was create a Einstein-Rosenberg bridge, more commonly called a Wormhole these days, and in the theorys themselves its pretty well stated that even if you could travel back in time, you shouldn't, ever. Even sending a single note back could change the entire world in the present. You send a note back, and it appears in the past or whatever, and suddenly particles of air itself is moved out of the way to make room for it to exist, so now you got particles that were not in the same place they originally were, and these particles push upon other particles and make them not be in the same place they originally were, and etc etc, basically saying even the tiniest tiniest little change in the past, changes absolutely EVERYTHING. And its absolutely impossible to predict and or compensate for the changes you create.

Anyway, rambling on, I actually very much enjoyed the film on this scientific level, for a while, and then as soon as they did send that first note back, it became all completely imagined just throwing the actual theorys out the window for the sake of a good story.

Speaking of the ending too, wrap your mind around this one. The end of the film creates a classic, and massive, Einstein Paradox. Even tho the day was saved and they all went home happy, Denzel's character still has to die. He still has to meet those people, go back in time, and die, because if he doesn't, then how could the event be changed if he doesn't still do it. Like, if you went back in time and killed your own grandmother, you'd cease to exist because she could never give birth to your mother, but, if you did this, then how could you go back and kill her if you didn't exist. Its a paradox, a completely impossible scenario anyway you look at it. It both can happen, and cannot happen, at the same time. Another one it creates too that I can immediately think of, is how could the ambulance have crashed into the cabin if he never goes back to do it. The future timeline is already established, we just don't know it yet, but if he never goes back in time, in the future, then the ambulance in the cabin doesn't exist in the past.

Anyway again, I enjoyed the film on this scientific level, in that the idea for it, at least at first, is based on real scientific theory, before it just throws the established theory out the window to run with good drama. If I was a high school physics teacher, I'd have a lesson on watching this film and writing a paper on all the holes in the theory it creates and all the many classic paradoxes it creates.

So anyway, conclusion to my scientific ramble being, its a good film, you just have to completely suspend belief for it, and don't even attempt to explain the film out rationally.

xpgeek says, don't even attempt to explain the film out rationally.

Spot on with that comment xpgeek. Because that was exactly what I felt as I was coming out of the cinema, still trying to get my bearings, which timeline are we now? If asked about it there is no way I can explain the film to anybody, man, I had a difficult time in there so let them go in and experience it themselves!

I jus did a whole rant which got deleted coz typekey logged me out .. grrr

So again but this time briefer ...

1st thing 1st, minor error .. you mean 4 days not 4 hours ;)

* passing the note, this was a huge risk, they didn't want to do this at all, they only did this coz Denzel was going a bit nuts & they didn't want him gong all 'man on fire' on them :)

* multiple passing of notes, they wouldn't do this due to a) the risk of having a huge outage of power etc as explained b) this was 'new' technology and this was the first investigation it was being used for, so I assume it wasn't fully ready 4 days ago?

*ending, with Denzel going in, things were going to get wierd anyway .. but the swimming with huge weight attached thing, minor blemish i'd say (possibly because I hadn't noticed)

*car taking ages to hit water, I think this was just the way it appeared, as in the whole ferry scene was quite slow moving for emphasis, not that much real-time passed, so its the pace that you may blame .. cramming 4 days into 2 hours & then giving 5 minutes over 10 minutes is a bit of a jolt I'll give you that

*non-suspect, as Drewbacca said her story checked out, but I can see how perhaps this could have been handled with a little more room for suspecting her

*not hanging-about, Denzel II didn't see this as a large enough crime scene now that Cazievel was dead & there were no major casualties, besides he now had this hot chick to pursue, in all fairness he did fall for her at first sight (both times).

-- Lmk your thoughts .. Do you forgive it yet?

Forgiven? Nope, no one's even come close to changing my mind.

xpgeek - as I said to Drew, the time thing was just something I noticed but it didn't spoil the enjoyment, it was the end that did that.

Also on the time paradox issue I don't really think there is one in this film. He's gone back in time and averted the disaster so in this timeline it's happened and he goes on living after the accident. The film ends after he's gone back in time and after the attack has been foiled, so he can go about his life without worrying about it. If the film had ended before he actually goes back in time then we would have the paradox.

Ram. Let's go through them.
* Yes, I did mean four days, my apologies.

* They only said it was a risk because they had never done it before and thought it wouldn't work or be possible. They were surprised when it worked. This was all said on screen at the time.

* Power outage - fair enough, but they were shown as brownouts, not blackouts, which recovered soon after. Easily coped with. Regardless of that if you wanted to send a note twelve days in the past. That would mean three uses of the machine, but all on different timelines, so it wouldn't be such a problem as each power drain is unique to that timeline.

* New technology and never used in an investigation sure, doesn't mean that it wasn't used before and set up somewhere else. They kept talking about the previous uses and tests so it would have been in use in the past...okay if the transporting of it took more than four days then they would have a problem.

* Swimming - wasn't just the swimming with the weight, but the cheesy avoidance of the massive rotating propeller.

* The issue wasn't with the car taking ages to hit the water, it was with the armed men on the boat not shooting at it.

* I don't see her story checked out. What story? She was in the vehicle with the bomb, it was her car, and the two people who could say otherwise were dead. Finding her swimming away with evidence linking her directly to the vehicle would be a bit dodgy to me. Even without that evidence all the armed guards saw her in the car and the police would at least have taken the precaution of keeping her as a suspect.

* Yeah I get the falling for bit, but she's possibly a suspect in a terrorist attack. It would be treated with a bit more importance than it was.

With all the other points I still think the ending destroys the rest of the film. Sure you can say fantasy, film, suspension of disbelief, all this, but when they make 98% of the film so damn strong and clever and then go poorly at the end, it sticks out like a sore thumb. If the whole film was like that then you could take it for what it is.

Oh, and Drew, the car chase was pretty cool and extremely well conceived - that was in the excellent 98% part of the film.

I had the pleasure of seeing this film with Richard so I heard him groan at the ending. I have to admit I was groaning along with him.

It's pretty much the same things that were bugging me. The ending did kind of spoil a good film. Pretty cheesy considering all that had gone before. But yes the way that she some how managed to avoid the massive propeller was something else. I believe worm bait might have been the phrase that I used.

Not to mention that she went from suspect to love interest in about 5 mins. I also thought it a little weird that he had been kind of stalking her (for the greater good) and fell for her. Yet she some how managed to fall for him in the space of a few hours. Half of which she thought he was up to no good.

I thought a better ending ending might have been her using the same technology to go back in time and making sure that Carlin didn't die.

Other than the ending though it was a good film. One of my favourite Denzel perfomances.

ah, paradoxes, paradoxes. actually i see only one real time paradox. there is only one dough carlin. he goes back and takes us with him, gets killed while saving the ferry, and than, miraculessly, another dough carlin appears. i thought we'd lost him to the past just a few hours before while saving the day?

for the rest the film is mildly entertaining.



Site Navigation

Latest Stories


Latest Reviews


Filmstalker Poll


Subscribe with...

Site Feeds

Subscribe to Filmstalker:

All articles

Reviews only

Audiocasts only

Subscribe to the Filmstalker Audiocast on iTunesAudiocasts on iTunes



Help Out

Site Information

Creative Commons License
© filmstalker.co.uk

Give credit to your sources. Quote and credit, don't steal

Movable Type 3.34