Theatrical Review: Vantage Point

In Spain, the President of the united States is attending a summit on the global war on terror, and as he’s ready to give a speech to the citizens of a Spanish city, a shot fires from above and the President is struck down, as all hell breaks loose around, within moments everything escalates further as a bomb goes off within the plaza the president was speaking from.

As the movie starts, we see this entire action taking place from the eyes of the control room of a cable news network, and what they’re seeing, is pretty much virtually what we’d see if we were home watching these events transpire from our TV screens. What follows next is a series of vignettes, played out from five different viewpoints leading up to the time of the tragedy with all converging together in the end. Effectively taking the Rashoman concept from Akira Kurosawa and placing it within an action/suspense narrative…

… and in my eyes, doing it pretty well.

The above describes the new movie, Vantage Point from director Pete Travis, who’s pretty new to the scene near as I can tell and who’s looking like he’s borrowing a page or two from Paul Greengrass’ book on how to make this sort of thriller and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that when it’s done well, and here it is done quite well, with each separate vignette all adding a little more to this puzzle of how these events were put together. We see this from the point of view of a top Secret Service agent, a Spanish police officer, an American tourist, the President himself and the terrorists who execute the plan and I think it’s all done quite well. I’ve read that elsewhere how some view this as being a bit absurd, but considering how the event is framed (we see it at the start as how it would be presented on TV and it closes the same way) and knowing how other real events have come to pass, I’m very much willing to acept how the events roll off here.

Travis plays with the handheld camera quite a bit, especially in the up-close-and-personal situations, but he also manages to know when to pull back and show the big picture and as such, I know I certainly never felt lost as the events were unraveling.

There’s a good cast at work here, Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Forest Whitaker and Edgar Ramirez are the better known members of this cast, and everyone plays their part quite well, with kudos from me going to Quaid and Whitaker in particular. But the real star of the film is it’s gimmick, and personally I love a movie that plays with a good gimmick, whether it’s something like having all of the film play out in one room, or in real-time, or like Vantage Point does with it’s Rashoman style, when the gimmick is well-committed to, it scores high with me.

Vantage Point ends up being a lot of fun and while it dips slightly in some of the Hollywood political cynicism, it’s just real slight and nothing that really does anything to over-politicize the film, thus making it a pretty huge turn-off. Good stuff here, and one that I look forward to seeing again when it makes it’s way home…

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

25. February 2008 by Darren Goodhart
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