Funny thing about Denzel Washington: you can almost guarantee he will be more interesting than any given movie in which he appears. Deja Vu is a perfect example: a conspiracy thriller enlivened with a twist of wacky sci-fi, it is made memorable by Denzel's eye-watering charisma. Here he plays a Port Authority cop investigating a bomb on a New Orleans ferry. Running on auto-pilot (cheeky grin, a touch of macho, you know the routine) he is nonetheless endlessly fascinating.
Deja Vu opens with an explosion on a boat packed with holidaymakers and children, a grim beginning that sets an appropriately sombre tone for the story. But don't be fooled. The low-key, realistic opening is just a blind for Deja Vu's central gimmick: a form of time-travelling police surveillance. Apparently, FBI boffins have built a machine that allows Denzel's copper to spy on events four days in the past via an ill-explained procedure involving wormholes and a camcorder. Amusingly, the machine has a portable in-car version, which allows Denzel to carry on a car chase in two simultaneous time frames.
"A NEATLY SOLVED PUZZLE"
The actual story, which involves a murdered witness and an evil gulf war veteran (glassily played by Jim Caviezel), is your standard time-paradox puzzle box, neatly solved in a twisty final act. Tony Scott's visuals are as stylishly empty as ever - the strange burnished effect of the time travelling sequences is especially lovely. But it's Denzel himself, ambling through the nonsense with just the right degree of twinkling insouciance, who keeps you watching. Good fun.