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Vantage Point: Clever, but Pointless

Posted by goldwriting on March 1, 2008

160719-vantage.jpg See there? Right there! Genius! How could you not have loved me in “Inner Space”?

Every situation, every moment that passes us by, it all is processed in our heads through what only we can see. So what would it be like to look at something from all sides, from all viewpoints. Would we get a better understanding of the situation? Would we be able to make better judgment calls or form more solid opinions? You might think so, but this film goes down that path and in the end really doesn’t make any statement in any direction at all. For all the non-linear switches and revolving storylines, which were mostly incredibly well thought out, the film winds up too clever for its own good. I would love to try and style my review to that of the movie, but in this case, I think it’s better to just start from the beginning and stay moving forward. No backtracking, I promise.

Vantage Point is the feature film directorial debut of Pete Travis. Pete has done some TV movies and mini-series, so he knows his way around a story and a set, but for a first time feature this is a bold move. Many directors have a problem trying to tell one story from beginning to end, but Pete tackles one story from beginning to another beginning and on and on. The trailers for the film are a little misleading though for what you get in the actual theater. You sit back and let yourself ease into the story, but once the climactic event takes place, the footage rewinds and you are whisked back to a half-hour before the event occurs. This time you follow another piece of the puzzle. This is not a bad tactic at all, but the movie does this about six times. I could hear the coughing and sighing begin around take four. They could have let a hint of this type of filmmaking sneak through in the trailers, but they chose to keep it secret, which might have been a mistake. One of the other main issues is the failure for the story to make any sort of point, even after seeing the same 45 minutes over and over again. Barry Levy, also coming to this as his feature film debut as a writer, weaves many different people and perspectives together to form a devious and incredibly specific terrorist plot, but it started to feel like too many pieces were in play without any motive. For those who have seen this, or go to it after this review, please feel free to write to me and tell me what the purpose of the GNN cameraman is. I’d like to know.

Let sidle over the subject of performances. The main star of the film, Dennis Quaid (greatest work to date: Frequency, but he’s in the upcoming G.I.Joe, so this could change soon), plays a shaken up secret service agent who is just coming back on the job after being shot in defense of the President. This detail is brought up again and again to build him up as some type of super agent that will never back down in a time of crisis. All that is fine and dandy because Quaid has a great ability to play the roughneck, dog-with-a-bone, type of men. What they don’t build him up to be is Jason Bourne, which is who he drives like during a car chase in the final act of the film. He goes racing after one of the terrorist group through the packed and crowded streets of Spain, but he handles the traffic, chaos and corners like he was born on the Autobahn. Add to that the car chase lasting nearly ten minutes makes his skills even less believable. Just to add fuel to the fire, the car he drives through this scene takes the title for switching back and forth from damaged to undamaged in between almost every shot (this title used to be famously held by the Porsche in Commando, sorry Arnie, you lose this one). William Hurt (greatest work to date: The Big Chill) joins the cast as President Ashton, who must deal with standing up for his beliefs in a time when everything is moving against them. Hurt’s issue here is mainly playing a role that comes off as too grandiose for the banner waving USA crowd. You almost get the feeling that this is the President we wished we had instead of the one we do, someone who chooses peace and diplomacy over war and power. There were some moments in Hurt’s storyline where it looked like the film was going to show some of the main people inside the President’s inner circle were also part of the plot in order to actually get that war started, but they quickly ended that idea in a series of silenced gunshots. Maybe that was a little too close to the truth for the studios to let through. The rest of the cast, Forest Whitaker (greatest work to date: The Last King of Scotland), Sigourney Weaver (greatest work to date: Alien), and Matthew Fox (greatest work to date: Lost (TV)) all put in their moments, but they don’t stand out from the movie or its structure.

Overall the idea is good, but all movies rest on a point they are trying to make and I felt the point here was to just distract the audience for 80 minutes, which can be good enough sometimes, but not here. But hey, that’s just what I saw from my seat in the second row. Maybe the guy in the ninth row saw a completely different film. Who knows?

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One Response to “Vantage Point: Clever, but Pointless”

  1. TV Shows said

    I can’t tell more about the movie yet because I didn’t see it yet…I just saw the trailer and I find it very exiting hope the entire movie as well…The logic seems so tricky, I’m looking forward to see it…Nice review anyway…

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