Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Review: Vantage Point

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, William Hurt
Director: Pete Travis
Release Date: February 22, 2008
Running time: 90 min
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Distributors: Sony Pictures

Eight strangers with eight different points of view try to unlock the one truth behind an assassination attempt on the United States of America.

The concept itself is intriguing. Any time there is a story newsworthy enough to be plastered all over every channel in the known world, we get the same details drudged out in front of us until a new perspective is offered. So to concentrate all perspectives into a 90 minute movie should be nothing if not efficient.

11:59:57… 58… 59… 12:00:00 as the church bell rings.The GNN crew is covering an anti-terrorism summit in Spain. A TV producer directs various cameramen and anchors as President Ashton (William Hurt) arrives. He is introduced, takes the podium, then two shots in the chest from afar. An explosion in the distance, then the podium explodes. People die. Freeze-frame. Rewind.

11:59:57… 58… 59… 12:00:00 as the church bell rings.Secret Service agents Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid) and Kent Taylor (Matthew Fox) escort the President to the anti-terrorism summit. One of them thinks he sees a shooter. The President takes two to the chest. The other chases someone. An explosion in the distance, then the podium explodes. People die. Freeze-frame. Rewind.

11:59:57… 58… 59… 12:00:00 as the church bell rings.American tourist Howard Lewis (Forest Whitaker) parades around by himself filming the anti-terrorism summit. This makes sense because that’s exactly the vacation we all want to take by ourselves. He thinks he sees a shooter in the window. He films it. The President takes two to the chest. An explosion in the distance, then the podium explodes. People die. He runs after someone because he’s apparently a vigilante now. Freeze-frame. Rewind.

Christ this is getting old…

The alarm clock strikes 6:00 AM, “I Got You Babe” comes on the alarm clock radio and – oops, wrong movie.

Where were we? Oh, Spain. President, explosions, dying, chasing. Got it.

The story itself is a slim 23 minutes long; from beginning to end. Conceptually I get it, but in order to make it work I need to care why these people are doing what they are doing. Or not doing. I didn’t. I didn’t care about one of these characters; a lack of character back story and poor acting is not something this movie needed to contend with. And the transitions between the stories were awful. Literally freeze-frames and a fast rewind montage to get you back to the beginning. After about the fifth time, I half expected the General Lee to come blasting across the screen and freeze so Waylon Jennings could voice over his concern for how the Duke boys were going get themselves out of this mess.

Now THERE’s high concept.

You know that friend who thinks it’s funny to wrap your Christmas present in six different boxes like a Matryoshka doll only to find it’s a gift card at the bottom to a store you don’t like? Or how you made your parents buy you a Happy Meal every week for a month so you could collect all the Matchbox cars? But since it was a McDonald’s toy it was a generic non-brand name toy car where the decals didn’t line up and the wheels didn’t work?

That’s this movie.

The good news is Happy Meal toys have improved since I was a kid. Bad news is this movie will always suck.

And there’s the rub.

½ * out of ****


Fletch said...

Haha - great review. Though I like when presents are nested and/or given the scavenger hunt treatment (assuming they aren't crappy presents).

Rick Olson said...

A very funny review. It just goes to show that there are ideas so good that you just have to copy them over and over and over ...

This particular one, of course, started with "Rashomon"

Tony Tanti said...

Good review. I agree that this wasn't a great movie though interestingly I don't agree with your take on the first half of the movie. The whole rewind and show me another perspective thing was working for me, it was when they switched and changed it into an action movie for the last half that I got bored.

I didn't dislike it as much as you but definitely not a great movie.