Feb 22, 2008|
(USA) You know how there are some movies that are well directed but badly written? This is one of them. Political thriller Vantage Point looks good on trailer and sounds smart in concept, but evokes groans and giggles from the audience instead of intelligent engagement, which means something is very wrong with the film indeed.
Set in Salamanca, Spain, the film opens with the President of the United States, Ashton (William Hurt, Into the Wild) about to give a give a speech at an anti-terrorist summit, when he is shot. This 20 or so minute assassination attempt is played over and over, through the perspectives of eight witnesses, starting from that of TV news producer Rex Brooks (Sigourney Weaver, Infamous). Next we see the event through the eyes of Secret Service agent Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid, American Dreamz), then Enrique (Eduardo Noriega, Alatriste), an undercover cop working for the Spanish mayor, then American tourist Howard (Forest Whitaker, Ripple Effect), and so on. Each character is privy to a key nugget of information that will help nab the assassin, so that when everything comes together in the end, we are supposed to see the pieces fall gloriously into place.
The film starts off with a bang (metaphorically and quite literally) but the high wears off fast. The novelty of the rewind-and-replay structure is pitifully lost through a plot that is neither complex nor cryptic enough. As a result, the suspense is thin, and the movie drags on even as bodies are flying, cars are screeching and bombs are going off all the time. Seriously, you can wander off for a good two or three toilet breaks at any point, and head back without missing much. Its main failing is that it’s simply not smart or complex enough.
Director Pete Travis, at the helm of his first studio film, does a fairly valiant job of keeping the ship from sinking completely, with riveting action sequences—if you’re an action junkie, the car chases will keep you at the edge of your seat. If you’d prefer more grip to accompany the tire-burning, we say the best vantage point is from a 180-point turn—out of the cinema.