Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Archive: 'Vantage Point'

Movie Review
Vantage Point (2008)

"Vantage Point" boasts a gripping premise about an assassination attempt on the president while being given different points of view, allowing for the viewers to unravel the puzzle. Well, it's gripping. The first time. But then you watch it again. And again, and again. Walking out of this and realizing you just watched the same scene six times over, you won't like yourself for having been suckered in. What seemed cool turns into a tedious thriller that can't possibly deliver all that it's promising. It's a tiring affair because, really, the movie could be a half hour long. After that initial half hour, you'll begin having the urge to bang your head against something to knock out the onslaught of stupidity being poured in. I mean, maybe I'm being too harsh, but the exaggeration of the whole thing does get to be a bit much.

It all starts on a sunny afternoon, promptly at noon. Trust me, you'll remember the time because each time the scene rewound to start from the beginning, a clock started over again in the corner of a black screen. The audience moaned and snickered at this more than once. The place is Spain, and the U.S. president (William Hurt) is about to address a global summit on terrorism. It's funny to me that the issue of global terrorism can be summed up into an explosive evening of entertainment like this. Moments after the president steps onto the podium, he's shot by a mystery assassin. The crowd scatters, and then a bomb goes off, killing dozens. And so begins the hunt.

The first, ahem, vantage point, we're given is from inside a CNN-like studio with the head woman (Sigourney Weaver) shouting commands to the camera crew. While looking for possible angles for her news story, things get crazy, and we're confused right along with her. And then we rewind. Next is a stressed out Secret Service agent (Dennis Quaid) who's rightfully paranoid about an attack on the president, and along with him is his boss (Matthew Fox of "Lost"). Following a second backtrack, there's some guy played by Forrest Whittaker running around with a camcorder conveniently catching necessary footage on tape. And then it's about this point that the movie officially wears out its welcome.

The entire point of the movie is to watch the different perspectives, and yet they have no point in themselves. The only necessary point of view is the last one we're given which reveals all you need to know in an obnoxious climax; it'll simply blow your mind seeing how ridiculously everything comes together in the end. And it's not even in a satisfying way, either. The movie certainly passes the test of being able to sit through it because you're dying to know how it ends. But then once you see the ending, you'll want to die. There's absolutely no pay-off to the bashing of the same scene over and over again into our brains.

Sigourney Weaver has no place here, the blank-faced William Hurt looks delusional, Dennis Quaid looks exhausted, Matthew Fox looks entirely lost not being in "Lost," and Forrest Whittaker went from winning an Oscar to this crap. So, just because a movie gathers together some mildly exciting actors doesn't mean it makes for a good time. And with all of the stuff these people are tossed into, the cables on your suspension of disbelief start to strain and snap away. And, of course, the plot holes. The movie fractures perspective in an attempt to cover up its flimsy design, but it just doesn't cut it. The movie loses its focus real quick and careens out of control long before it finishes.

"Vantage Point" is one big gimmick. Take away the rewinding, the backtracking, the replaying, and the shattered perspectives, and what you've got here is a by-the-numbers thriller that really doesn't offer anything new. There is a pretty cool, if not shockingly long, car chase scene near the end. It's reminiscent of something like what maybe Paul Greengrass could do better. Oh, wait, he has. Twice.

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