A ferry blows up and Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) is on the scene as a dedicated agent for the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF,) the same bureau that is currently in the news for using rogue tactics and exploiting the mentally-challenged to run gun stings. But Denzel isn't one of those gun guys; the dude can pick up a piece of plastic, sniff under a bridge, rub a wall, and figure out that explosives were used to blow up the ferry. While a guy from the National Transportation Safety Board is debating if the explosion of the ferry was an accident, Denzel walks in and impresses everyone with his detective skills. Denzel shows the NTSB guy a piece of plastic and says: “The insulation on the leg wire will inform us of who the manufacturer of the blasting cap is and then we go after the switching mechanism and the bomb's power source.” Everyone is impressed by the articulate man who has uncovered evidence that a bomb was used to blow up the ferry.
Denzel then goes back to his office, where his assistant has setup a few screens with surveillance video of the bridge where Denzel did his detective work. While talking on the phone and chatting with his assistant, Denzel glances at the screens. “Hold it right there!” he shouts after seeing a motherfucker on a motorcycle that he's sure is their man. The day has only started and Denzel already has a suspect on camera.
A phone call then comes in about a body that washed up, apparently a victim of the ferry explosion. Denzel says that it's gonna keep happening over the next few weeks, but then inquires about when it washed up and concludes that the victim was murdered before the explosion.
Denzel goes to examine the body and after a necrophilic love experience realizes that the woman must have been the bomber's first victim. More detective work leads Denzel to conclude that the woman was probably murdered for her vehicle, which was used by the bomber to deliver the package. Val Kilmer, who at first claimed he was FBI, is impressed and decides that he needs Denzel's help.
|This octopus is the most famous NRO employee.|
Val takes Denzel into a heavily-fortified base and introduces him to a bunch of nerds from the National Reconnaissance Office, the same office that is currently in the news for launching a massive rocket with a classified payload, likely a network of nanosatellites that will spy on what's left of humanity's privacy.
The nerds from the NRO introduce Denzel to a series of satellites that enable them to look four and a half days into the past. The NRO guys tell Denzel that the satellite network uses 3D reconstruction and infrared thermal imaging to follow and record people everywhere, even inside of their homes. “Where do you get the audio?” Denzel asked after looking into the necrophilic heroine's home and observing her every move, watching her shower, and hearing her every utterance. The NRO guys tried to technobabble Denzel into confusion, but the dude is smart, he directs a laser pointer at the screen and sees the heroine respond. “This shit is actually looking into the past, not reconstructing satellite camera feeds,” he realizes.
One of the NRO guys who looks like Jesus mixed with Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day tells Denzel: “We were attempting to use concentrated bursts of energy to enhance the sensitivity of optical telescopes and in the process we had a breakthrough; given enough energy, we could warp the very fabric of space.” But Denzel doesn't understand what that means and gets enraged, “give me a simpler explanation!” he demands. Jeff Goldblum then grabs a piece of paper and starts explaining in simple English: “We're used to viewing space as flat, like this piece of paper.” He then folds the piece of paper and explains: “We can fold the space, bring the target closer to us, create what's known as an Einstein-Rosen bridge, otherwise known as a wormhole suspended via gravitational field.”
More technobabble ensues and Denzel asks if the heroine is alive. He doesn't get a straight answer, infuriating him madly: “I'll speak slow so those of you with PhDs in the room can understand.” He then smashes a chair into a monitor and shouts: “Now, the monitor is broken.”
The breaking of the monitor finally causes the dude that looks like Jeff Jesus Goldblum to confess that the heroine is alive. Denzel then asks if something can be sent back, a body perhaps. “It's not possible,” says Jesus Goldblum: “You can't beat the physics, the electromagnetic pulse... You cross what's known as the Wheeler Boundary, an EMP annihilates all electrical activity, that's your heartbeat, that's brainwaves.”
But Denzel doesn't easily give up. He wants to send a letter to his office. It causes Jesus to proclaim that the physics doesn't allow people to change the past. Denzel says that it's something beyond physics, that it involves the spiritual.
An emotional speech convinces the NRO staff and Val Kilmer to send back a letter, in the process using a tremendous amount of energy, enough to take out a power grid. The letter arrives and sets off a series of events that led to the killing of Denzel's partner by the dude who blew up the ferry. Motivated by the death of his partner and the kidnapping of the dead woman he loves, Denzel volunteers to be sent back into an emergency room. He arrives dead, as Jesus predicted, but is revived with a defibrillator, allowing him to save the heroine and fall in love in the process.
Déjà Vu must have seen like far-fetched science-fiction when it was released in 2006, but it has just recently been revealed that the FBI can remotely turn on people's laptop cameras, so being able to look into a person's home doesn't require a telescope capable of creating an Einstein-Rosen bridge. As for the sound? The FBI has for many years been able to turn a cellphone into a microphone with relative ease, enabling massive eavesdropping.
We might be a long way off from wormholes and time travel, but we're very close to constant satellite surveillance. Recently, DARPA announced plans to launch a giant fold-up satellite capable of observing 40% of the planet. In the not too distant future, even the most remote desert, the most isolated island, the farthest corner of the ocean, will be under constant satellite surveillance. And with the help of some friendly FBI computer technicians, a friendly ATF agent might just be able to track you and hear you all the way into your shower, but he's doing it because he loves you and is willing to risk his life to save you.