April 4, 2008

VANTAGE POINT (2008) - Movie Review


Directed by: Pete Travis
My Review: 6/10
Vantage Point is a film that has a couple of things going for before I even step into the theater to watch it. First of all, it’s a little different. I’m always interested to see films that take a different approach to conventional linear storytelling. They don’t all turn out as well as Memento did, but it’s still interesting to see. Telling a story from different perspectives isn’t exactly 100% original, but it’s not done often. Also, I confess to being a big Denis Quaid fan. Put that man in anything and I’ll be curious at the very least to see it. So did Vantage Point take advantage of these things or squander them? Well… both.
Vantage Point takes place during a major world event where the President of the United States (played by William Hurt) has assembled a massive alliance of world leaders in a new plan to fight global terrorism. The movie happens all on the afternoon of a huge outdoor press conference in Spain with the leaders in front of cheering crowds. But when the President steps up to the microphone to address the world, gun shots ring out and the President goes down. Moments after that, sounds of explosions echo and blast through the crowd. This incident is then replayed for the audience several times, each time from the perspective of a different person. The President, one of his secret service agents, a tourist, a terrorist and a couple of others all sewn together for the audience leading up to the climax of the film when all the various perspectives come together.
The concept of the film worked. The whole idea of weaving what is really going on to the audience through different perspectives and the new information that comes from each character, and how that new information sheds light on information we learned from a previous one was executed well. It starts us off just from the perspective of the average citizen of the world as we first see the events happen from the view of the world news agency (they can’t call it CNN… so it’s something like GNN or something like that) and then we learn more from each progressive charcter’s “Vantage Point”.
The ensemble cast of the film was quite solid really, no one really stuck out as a weakness (aside from Forest Whitaker, who is always great but whose character was totally pointless and uncessesary which made having an actor like him in there a distraction) and they all fit pretty well into their respective roles. Quaid was quite strong actually, but I expected nothing less anyway.
It’s not really fair to hold the marketing of a film against a movie… but in today’s Hollywood, the marketing is now very much a part of the film’s experience unfortunately, and the marketing of this film absolutely RUINED significant parts of the movie for me. I obviously can’t go into too much detail here without crossing into spoiler territory, but it’s enough to say that as I was watching the movie I realized that a couple of things that were SUPPOSED to be twists and surprises later on, were already ruined because of something I saw in the trailer. This drove me NUTS.
Although the movie executed the whole “telling the story from different Vantage Points” pretty well, the mechanism they used got quite annoying. As each characters point of view was finished being shown, the screen would freeze, then rewind through what we just saw, and a clock would show at the bottom of the screen letting us know that it was Noon again. The first time they did it, it felt out of place… but after that it felt like they were treating us in the audience like idiots. As a matter of fact, instead of creating added dramatic tension to the movie, the technique made people in the theater laugh out loud each time they did it.

and pure utter nonsense. I wish more than anything I could tell you how this thing ends, but clearly that would be a spoiler, but I will say this… the film comes to its end with a terrorist, doing something so stupid, so ridiculous, so unbelievable that it just sours the taste of the whole film for me. I want to rant and rave about how bad this ending was… but I can’t… and that makes me even more frustrated. AARRGGGHH!!!!!
Vantage Point is a mediocre story told in an interesting way that unfortunately tends to drag itself down by some of the repetativness and techniques it employs. A decent job by the ensembles cast carries the film most of the way, and then is nearly completely ruined by a plot device at the end that soured the whole taste of the movie for me.
Overall I give Vantage Point a 6 out of 10.
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