Vantage Point Reviews
Jim Lane, writing in the Sacramento News & Review, said in outward negativity, "It all winds up-or dribbles down-to yet another chase through crowded streets in commandeered cars, with an ending meant to be ironic but simply providing a crowning howler to all the Rube Goldberg nonsense." He emphatically believed, "with all the repetition and a modest 90-minute running time, they run out of ideas before they run out of film." Left unimpressed, Mick LaSalle in the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote that the film "has a fractured and frustrating narrative." Unlike Akira Kurosawa's classic film Rashomon, which is structured around multiple retellings of the same event, LaSalle characterizes Vantage Point as "fairly pedestrian, and nothing special is gained from all the stopping and restarting. The title is the tip-off. Aside from the changing-perspectives device, Vantage Point has nothing going on. There's no artistic, philosophical or even jolly entertainment reason for adopting this strategy. It's just arbitrary, a gimmick." Claudia Puig of USA Today, said the "various viewpoints don't quite link up. And they all employ the same rewind technique once unspooled. Stylistically, this laying out of the facts then speedily going back over them in reverse seems initially intriguing, but it gets old after about the fifth time." She even believed that like "many action-adventure movies that are short on plot intricacies but long on gimmick and explosives, too much is given away in the trailer." The film however, was not without its supporters. William Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, believed the film was "flat-out one of the more exciting and original gut-busters that Hollywood has produced in many a month. It's virtually all action, but the action is never mindless and it is full of marvelous surprises every step of the way." Richard Corliss of TIME commented that "Vantage Point scored with surprisingly robustness at the wickets, outperforming the predictions of industry analysts and seeming likely to be the weekend's No. 1 attraction." He noted the film is "best seen as straightforward, sometimes harrowing melodrama, packed with mistaken identities, beautiful villains, a kindly tourist who can outrace the bad guys, and a lost little girl whom the film brazenly sends onto a highway full of speeding cars." David Denby of The New Yorker, added to the positive sentiment by saying "Vantage Point is something remarkable-the ultimate case, perhaps, of a movie as a big whirling machine. The writer, Barry L. Levy, and the director, Pete Travis, a Brit who made a TV movie about a bombing in Northern Ireland, may be taking their cues from genre fiction, but no one can say that they haven't beautifully mapped out their turf as a grid of charged vectors.". Writing for The Boston Globe, Ty Burr bluntly noted that the "rewind/retell gambit quickly grows tiresome - we're groaning by the fourth narrative reboot - and, anyway, the device isn't used to question the nature of truth (as it was in Rashomon) but to slowly reveal a nefarious terrorist conspiracy to ... but I can say no more." He thought the end result of the film was "both clever and stupid - an interesting feat." In a mixed review, James Berardinelli writing for ReelViews, called the film a "fast-paced motion picture that fails the 'reality test' but maintains a certain intensity for its entire running length. It's entertaining in the same way that an episode of 24 is entertaining, but without the lead character shouting 'dammit!' every five minutes." Describing an unfavorable opinion, Scott Foundas of The Village Voice said the film encompassed "multiple perspectives" that "are all foreplay, it turns out, for an orgiastic third-act car chase during which the movie's story threads converge in a way that makes Paul Haggis seem like a master of Balzacian realism." Foundas ended his review noting "nothing in Vantage Point quickens the pulse as much as the realization that, with each successive turn of the wheel, we come one step closer to the end." John Anderson of The Washington Post, stated that there were "many places one could lay blame for "Vantage Point." One would be the late Akira Kurosawa, whose original movie version of 'Rashomon' made it chic for filmmakers to create multiple-perspective movies and, since they aren't Kurosawa, drive us crazy." He ultimately came to the conclusion that "no amount of ripening time was going to help this gimmicky and ultimately harebrained movie." Similarly, Justin Chang wrote in Variety that the film circles "endlessly around a political assassination attempt and its violently contrived aftermath, the film proves every bit as crude, nerve-grinding and finally unsalvageable as the car accidents it keeps inflicting on its characters." He did however note, the original holdover slated release for the film in 2007 by Sony was "unlikely to stop traffic around multiplexes despite its attention-getting cast, especially when poor word of mouth takes hold." However, in a more upbeat tone, Owen Gleiberman writing for Entertainment Weekly thought the film was "a pulse-pounding technological showman whose high-strung, quick-cut style might be described as JFK meets Paul Greengrass meets Jerry Bruckheimer. That said, it's not the plot that thickens - it's the pulp." He believed it had "a gripping premise that, for a while, at least, is grippingly executed."
Pete Travis "Vantage Point" has a quite ok ensemble cast including Dennis Quaid, William Hurt, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Édgar Ramírez, Eduardo Noriega and Zoe Saldana, but the problem with the film is the fractured and bloody repetitive narrative with all the multiple perspectives, poor b-movie direction, poor dialogue, cheap clichéridden thrills, chopped up editing and the unbalanced acting. When the fourth perspective is on it´s way you have totally lost the interest in the film and where it´s heading to be honest. Yes, "Vantage Point" explores kidnapping, assassination and terrorism which never goes out of fashion and terrorism has never been more current as a topic. But, this is simply not a film you must see. It´s not unique enough and it´s not entertaining enough. Pass on this one.
Trivia: The film is often compared, unfavorably, to Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon, which also employed storytelling through multiple perspectives. Rashomon used the multiple perspectives to question the possibility of truth, in a process called the Rashomon effect; in contrast, Vantage Point recounts a series of events which are re-enacted from several different perspectives and viewpoints in order to reveal a truthful account of what happened.