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  Publicity Stills of
"Vantage Point"
(Courtesy from Columbia TriStar)

Genre: Action/Thriller
Director: Pete Travis
Cast: Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt
RunTime: 1 hr 30 mins
Released By: Columbia TriStar
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://www.vantagepoint-movie.com/index.php

Opening Day: 20 March 2008


In Columbia Pictures' action-packed thriller "Vantage Point," eight strangers with eight different points of view try to unlock the one truth behind an assassination attempt on the president of the United States. Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid) and Kent Taylor (Mathew Fox) are two Secret Service agents assigned to protect President Ashton (William Hurt) at a landmark summit on the global war on terror. When President Ashton is shot moments after his arrival in Spain, chaos ensues and disparate lives collide in the hunt for the assassin. In the crowd is Howard Lewis (Forest Whitaker), an American tourist who thinks he’s captured the shooter on his camcorder while videotaping the event for his kids back home. Also there, relaying the historic event to millions of TV viewers across the globe, is American TV news producer Rex Brooks (Sigourney Weaver). As they and others reveal their stories, the pieces of the puzzle will fall into place – and it will become apparent that shocking motivations lurk just beneath the surface.

Movie Review:

Vantage Point is, unapologetically, a gimmick movie, and on that level it works. It’s refreshing to see a film based around politics that isn’t preachy, doesn’t have an agenda, and instead just goes for straight-up frenetic action. That’s not to say it doesn’t become maddening repetitive at times, but the final twenty minutes and some nice twists make the whole thing worthwhile. Word of mouth and media has rather condemned this piece as an unnessasary 23-min dragged out film, its rather a personal guilty pleasure and a style of writing since an early age. It has political aspects that interweave the plot but it’s not particularly dialogue-driven. Couple this with a Rashomon effect-type of storytelling, and it’s basically one of the funnest forms of cinema.

Security is tight when President Ashton (William Hurt) attends the global war on terror summit in Spain. Agent Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid), who took a bullet for the President just a year prior, is back on the job. Unfortunately, a gunman successfully shoots the President and sets off a bomb in the town square, killing many. Trying to make sense what happened, Barnes searches for clues, running through the madness, being told from eight different points of view, with each perspective revealing a new clue.

Some viewers will feel cheated by the fact that they are only getting 23 minutes of plot replayed over and over again to make a 90 minute movie. It seems funny after a while as, after each vantage point, it is all rewound and started again. You know the climactic elements and each time it is only for character and plot definition. The gimmick at the heart of Vantage Point - the same event is shown from the perspective of several different characters - ultimately proves to be a fresh element within the proceedings, as the film improves considerably once it adopts a linear structure somewhere around the one-hour mark. Plus with each new telling, there's twist thrown in that makes you rethink everything you thought you saw. Or at least some of it.

The storyline - which revolves around the events leading up to and following the assassination of the President (William Hurt) - certainly seems as though it would've benefited from a more traditional approach, with the inclusion of several mini cliffhangers and a myriad of plot twists admittedly holding the viewer's interest yet infusing the movie with the feel of a similarly-themed television show (ie imagine a full season of 24 or Alias compressed into a 90-minute feature). And while the repetitive vibe proves instrumental in maintaining an air of mystery, it does become difficult to overlook the increasingly superfluous nature of the film's intricate modus operandi. Pete Travis' hopelessly derivative, flat-out distracting directorial choices (shaky camerawork, rapid-fire editing, etc, etc) notwithstanding, Vantage Point's final half hour is as thrilling and exciting as one might've hoped - though it's impossible not to wish the filmmakers had gone for an R-rating (ie lots of people are bloodlessly shot). The exhilarating car chase that closes the movie is alone worth the price of admission, and it goes without saying that fans of the various actors - particularly Dennis Quaid and Matthew Fox - will surely find plenty here worth embracing.

Thoroughly, it’s a solid flick that kept me engaged all throughout. It’s far from perfect, and I believe the ending was an afterthought and could have benefited from a few more revisions, but proves to be an innovative roller coaster that is well worth the price of admission. Don't look for deep meanings, though. What is important is that it's top-notch entertainment from our vantage point.

Movie Rating:

(An adrenelin action piece that will have you keep gasping for air.)

Review by Lokman BS


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