Written by Barry Levy
Directed by Pete Travis
Running Time: 1:30
for sequences of intense violence
and action, some disturbing images
and brief strong language.
Vantage Point was a thrilling, twister of a ride that will leave you guessing right up until the last moment.
U.S. President Ashton is in Spain for a major conference on terrorism. But just as he is about to begin his very public speech, he is shot. The shooting sets off a chain of events shown from various points of view. Each story has its own part in the larger picture. One of Ashton's Secret Service detail had been shot a year earlier protecting Ashton from assassination and is back on the job for the first time since that incident. A TV producer sees the entire incident from all of the TV cameras in her truck. An American tourist may have caught the entire current shooting and subsequent bombing on tape. Two young lovers may know more than they're letting on. A friendly local has a few secrets of his own. When pieced together the sum of the parts combines to tell the whole story.
I have to say I enjoyed Vantage Point. I'm a sucker for the kind of movie where you get to hear/see the same story from different points of view. Vantage Point is a very quickly paced movie so there was always something either exciting happening on screen, or another piece to the puzzle being revealed. Each segment for the first hour was about 10 minutes long, with a 20-25 minute chase pulling the movie together at the end. What I liked initially was that through the eyes of the TV producer, we see the entire movie laid out from a distance. We watch as the President enters the outdoor square, gets shot, and the two bombings that take place moments later. It's a good set up to the following points of view which take us further inside the story.
One of the biggest issues I had going into the film was that I felt the previews/trailers gave away way too much of what was happening. Plot twists were shown very openly so that I wondered if I had the movie figured out before it even started. I think I managed to guess at about 75% of it, but there was still that other 25% I didn't see coming. And even though I knew some of what was going to happen, the way the movie sped right along kept me interested the entire time. So even if you think you know what the movie is about, I'd still go see it because you might have a few surprises along the way.
There were a couple of things that stopped the movie from being a really great film. The first was the cast. There wasn't any real A-list talent, which is sad and surprising considering it featured two Oscar winners and one person who won two Golden Globe awards in the same year (I'll let you figure out who they all were). But a lot of the faces were certainly well known with Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, William Hurt and Sigourney Weaver leading the way. I think I kind of prefer a movie like this to not have a major star in it because you get lost in who the actor is as opposed to paying attention to the character. Each of them had their own little quirk that made them interesting. By the end of the film you realize that there was one lead and the rest were supporting characters, but as the movie went along for the first hour, everyone had their own little stories that made them the star of their own 10 minute segment.
The other thing that held the movie back was some of the dialogue, especially at the end. What I realized after I got home was that there wasn't a ton of talking in the film, but when the actors did speak, they sounded, well, like they were reading a script. You know those over-the-top kind of films where a newly graduated film student wants to try and make a real impact with their script, so they put in lines that normal people wouldn't say. All of this came to a head at the conclusion of the film when some of the lines felt so out of place the audience couldn't help but start laughing. That was kind of sad because the movie was a rollercoaster of a ride but the dialogue made it feel like a B-level film.
One problem I didn't feel the movie had was continuity. I thought that the multiple story arcs interconnected very well. There may have been one or two moments that were a bit unbelievable (again, especially towards the end when one of the characters seemingly turned into a superhero) but because the film moved along so quickly I was willing to forgive some of the small mistakes. And again, I'm a big fan of these kinds of films and love seeing characters weave in and out of each others stories. You never know if a character you meet in the beginning of a movie, say a little girl with an ice cream cone, will come back at the end of the film to play an important role. So while the dialogue was a bit too much, the rest of the script was fairly tight.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I really enjoyed Vantage Point. It suffered from some cheesiness in the dialogue and the ending which kept it from being a truly great movie, but it was still a pretty fun ride. And as I'm sure you've figured out, Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland) and William Hurt (Kiss of the Spider Woman - how is this not available on DVD??) were the Oscar winners, while Sigourney Weaver (Gorillas in the Mist / Working Girl) was the double Golden Globe winner in 1989.
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