Vantage Point Reviews
The only meaty role here is played by Dennis Quaid, who plays a guilt ridden secret service man (he took a bullet for the President) who wants redemption for some reason, even though he's a hero. William Hurt as President and Sigourney Weaver as the TV news director have very little to challenge them and very little complexity. The terrorists are mostly interchangeable.
Director Pete Travis directs the mayhem, car chases and terrorist action beautifully. What falls down here is the silly puzzle script which is more frustrating since most people will sit through the whole thing, hoping for a interesting resolution and will be utterly let down at the end. You realize in the last ten mintues that you've been wasting your time. If you rent this and you turn your brain off, it can be a diverting ninety minutes. Bring lots of snack foods, they'll give you more sustenance than this forgettable thriller.
After rehashing the same event five times - repetition with difference, very postmodern! - the film slips into an omniscient narrative style, to fill in the gaps for those of us who are unable to put the story together in our minds... and as soon as it does, things start sliding off the table. The action doesn't let up though, and at 90 minutes (barely), they still managed to not overuse what little story they had. The car chase was long, which is good, but nothing much happened and the shooting jumped around too much, which was bad.
A valid attempt at inventive film-making, but one that falls short of its target, Vantage Point is acceptable popcorn fare. And in passing, if you're curious, I don't think there was a single swear word in it. I like authentic film-making, but I have to say, I didn't miss the foul mouths a bit.
The film is essentially a Roshmon styled tale of the attempted assassination of a contemporary American President while he attends a security conference in Salamanca, Spain. The narrative of the film loops back approximately 23 minutes from the event and its immediate aftermath, slowly revealing who the key players are and what their various objectives are. This device is a novel concept and proves to be highly compelling. Just when you think you have a solid grip on what happening, more elements are introduced that force you to reconsider; the man who runs up the podium after the president is shot is not an assassin but policeman assigned to protected the mayor of the city; the man who is gunned down is not the President; the assassination itself is revealed to be a ruse. These revelations are delivered in a slam band fashion, with kinetic cinematography by Amir Morki that keeps the chaos tightly controlled and the frantic chases in the film are comparable to the Jason Bourne films. In fact, it would be an excellent film if all the dialog scenes where edited out and it was just a half an hour action reel.
But it isn't. The film is severely hampered by a twisty, increasingly implausible plot. First off the President is revealed to have used a stand-in due to a totally accurate terrorist threat. As the real P.O.T.U.S. is secured far away from the nightmarish happenings in the city center, his sub-plot is built up as more of a reaction to the crisis and how to effectively respond to it until a masked man breaks into his heavy fortified hotel room to kidnap him because the terrorist leader (who must have been a despite of the Jigsaw killer of the Saw films) anticipated the switch out and planned accordingly! This and another sub-plot following Forest Whitaker's befuddled super-tourist (he manages to outpace several secret service agents in their pursuit of a suspect, while saving a deeply unlucky young girl several times) show that while rendered thrilling, the film's story doesn't make any sense.
For one thing, the objective of the film's terrorists is oddly vague. It seems at first they want the President dead, but then want him captured alive, possible for ransom but that's not really made clear. These terrorists also seem to have a network that extends not only to Spanish bellhops and cameramen but also to the American Secret Service, which begs the question, why didn't they just recruit one more guy and nab him at The White House? That along with the terrorist's origin and true intentions (Muslim fifth columnist is my best guess) is left unanswered. However, this is not the film's greatest flaw.
The fact that there isn't a central compelling protagonist is. Dennis Quaid's traumatized Secret Service man is the closest but like all the characters in the film he is too lightly sketched to be really inspire interest. 24's Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) keeps the show's often zany plots grounded because the audience is given enough time to invest in his success. By giving it's more than five leads less than 30 minutes to connect, the film has to rely on cheap theatrics to provide drama which leaves the film hallow. If you want a non-stop action movie, you do worse but this film is the cinematic equivalent of a bag Lays potato chips, mildly pleasurable but not at all satisfying.