Déjà Vu (2006) is a predictable but entertaining time-travel drama. Set in New Orleans, the actual plot of the film has little to do with the city, other than the fact that various scenes are set in such areas as the French Quarter and that in the closing credits a message dedicates the film to the Hurricane Katrina survivors. The connection, perhaps, lies in the explosion at the start of the film that kills more than 300 people on a ferry—the ferry disaster is connected to the Katrina disaster, though to me it is cheesy and insincere of the film to suggest the link.
In Déjà Vu Denzel Washington plays an agent of the division of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms who investigates the explosion. He becomes interested in the body of a woman that has washed up on the shore of the Mississippi, a body that appears to be that of a disaster victim, even though it washes up two hours before the explosion occurs. Washington is recruited by a secret government agency that has developed a time machine that allows anyone using it to gaze back three days into the past. The agents using the machine hope to track events and find out who is responsible for blowing up the ferry. Washington senses a link between the body washed up on the shore and the disaster. In the process of using the time machine to track the dead woman's movements, Washington finds himself increasingly interested in her, and subsequent events unravel exactly as one would predict—he uses the machine to travel back in time to try to save her and prevent the disaster.
Although the film doesn't dwell much on the supposed science behind the time machine, and although it does seem aware of some of the theoretical implications of time travel, when it tries to explain how the machine works, anyone with the faintest knowledge of physics will recognize the hoopla. Fortunately, the film doesn't emphasize the science behind the machine, and even the implausible machine itself is underplayed.
The connections of the New Orleans setting to the concerns of this film are minimal. The film contrasts the rationality of the scientists who develop and use the machine with the humanistic and spiritual implications of its existence. (The actual inventor of the machine admits near the end of the film that he believes in God). As a center of African-American culture, New Orleans provides a background where the film's interest in issues of the spirit—one scene takes place near a church--can be tentatively and haphazardly explored. The woman whose body washes up on shore appears to be African American, and the father who mourns her death appears to be white, so New Orleans as a place where inter-racial relationships and marriages are common provides a social context that explains these different racial characteristics, though the film does nothing to expand this dimension.
One scene shows the destruction left by Hurricane Katrina, but it lacks organic connection with the remainder of the film.
As bad as it was, The Skeleton Key made better use of New Orleans as a setting, linking the New Orleans culture of voodoo and superstition directly to the plot of the film. Déjà Vu is certainly a better film, though only in relative terms.