PlotOn Tuesday, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, 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 into the river, killing at least 543 on board. Special Agent Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is sent to investigate the explosion and discovers evidence that the attack was committed by a domestic terrorist. On arrival at the scene he hears the song "Don't Worry Baby" by the Beach Boys on the radio. After surveilling the wreckage he calls his vacationing partner, Larry Minuti (Matt Craven), with whom he had been having disputes, and simultaneously hears a ring tone; the ringing is coming from a body bag nearby. Doug leaves a message then hangs up. He then meets with the investigating police officers and U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Paul Pryzwarra (Val Kilmer), and informs them of his findings.
On Tuesday, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, 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 into the river, killing at least 543 on board. Special Agent Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is sent to investigate the explosion and discovers evidence that the attack was committed by a domestic terrorist. On arrival at the scene he hears the song "Don't Worry Baby" by the Beach Boys on the radio. After surveilling the wreckage he calls his vacationing partner, Larry Minuti (Matt Craven), with whom he had been having disputes, and simultaneously hears a ring tone; the ringing is coming from a body bag nearby. Doug leaves a message then hangs up. He then meets with the investigating police officers and U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Paul Pryzwarra (Val Kilmer), and informs them of his findings.
At the station, a clerk gives him the number of a woman with a "sexy voice" that had called earlier asking for him, a number that he proceeded to write down on a gum wrapper. Doug then learns about a partially burned body pulled from the river, that of a Claire Kuchever (Paula Patton). However, unlike the other bodies found in the river, this one was discovered and reported to authorities before the explosion. Claire appears to be in her early thirties, and has several fingers missing (seemingly having been cut off). Doug calls back the woman whose number was on the gum wrapper, but the woman doesn't pick up and he is forced to leave a message.
Traveling to Claire's house to investigate further, he carefully dons latex gloves before entering. 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. He also finds a loaded revolver on a shelf, and while listening to the messages on her answering machine, he hears missed calls from her concerned friend Beth and from her father, and finally, he hears the message that he had left himself a few hours beforehand at the ATF office. 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 gone to Claire's house because he needed her truck to store the explosives for the bombing, then had to kill her to tie up any loose ends, burning her and dumping her in the river to make her look like another victim of the ferry bombing. Doug also learns that his partner Larry Minuti, who he thought had been on vacation, was actually killed in the ferry bombing. Nonetheless, Pryzwarra is impressed with Doug's detective expertise, and convinces him to join a newly formed government-funded detective unit whose first case is to investigate the explosion. With a team 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 into the past (4 days, 6 hours, 3 minutes, 45 seconds, 14.5 nanoseconds) in detail. 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. Doug receives a call from his ATF office, telling him that the investigation team found bloody clothes in the trash at Claire's house, and adding that he did a lousy job at investigating the house, leaving his fingerprints everywhere. 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 her about purchasing her car, a red SUV. Claire unwisely gives him her address, but he 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 going to the ferry dock in preparation for placing the vehicle on the ferry with the bomb inside.
Doug surreptitiously tries an unauthorized experiment with a laser pointer to learn more about the program, 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. Despite Denny's protests against tampering with the past, Doug has the team send a note back in time to inform his past self of the time and place to meet and stop the ferry bomber. The team sends the note back to the very last moment Doug and his partner Larry Minuti were together in their office. 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 at night 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 manage to capture a clear view of the terrorist's face) guiding him, Doug follows the terrorist to his home, a bait shack in the bayou. Doug, in the present, 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 manage to identify the ferry bomber, who is revealed to be disillusioned self-proclaimed patriot Carroll Oerstadt (Jim Caviezel). An ATF SWAT team tracks him into the swamp and captures him. It turns out that Oerstadt was angry at the U.S. government after being turned down for enlistment by the Marine Corps and Army, who believed Oerstadt was overcommitted and psychologically unstable. During questioning, 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. After Doug's conversation with Oerstadt about the bombing, his motive, and his belief in destiny, Oerstadt admits to committing the crime, which satisfies Pryzwarra. Convinced that the case is now closed, the government shuts down the "Snow White" unit's investigation. However, Doug is deeply troubled by the realization that he himself had caused the deaths of Minuti and Claire by altering history and sending the note back in time to Minuti. Doug convinces Denny to do one last unauthorized experiment: 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 as a patient in a hospital room 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 cut off the unconscious Claire's fingers and burn her. After a shootout Oerstadt blows up the house and flees, 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 asks to borrow clothes that belonged to her ex-boyfriend (whom Claire had not mentioned). He throws his bloody clothes in the sink and writes the phrase that he had seen earlier with the magnets on her refrigerator. After she returns from getting changed, Doug notices she is wearing the same dress she was found dead in after the bombing, and suggests she wear something else. She pulls a gun on him, suspicious because he knew where she lived and knew all about her, 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 but says that he isn't available and writes down her number on a gum wrapper. After Doug tries to explain how he knows about her, and correctly predicts the messages on her phone before she plays them, she drops the gun, placing it on the shelf where Doug would find it in the future, and willingly goes to help him.
With his wounds tended and clothes changed, Doug takes Claire and goes to the ferry dock, waiting for the right moment to board the ferry and attempt to disarm the bomb. At the dock, he asks Claire to stay behind and alert security of a possible threat, but 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. While the US Navy band plays "When the Saints Go Marching In", Claire jumps onto the ferry hoping to warn Doug, but is caught by Oerstadt, gagged, and bound in the driver's seat of her 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 recites key parts of the conversation that he had with Oerstadt earlier, in the future, and manages to distract him so that Claire can hit him with her car. Doug shoots Oerstadt in the head, 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. Claire manages to escape, but Doug 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 again on the radio.
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Déjà_Vu_(2006_film)", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0