Vantage Point

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 90 mins
Director: Pete Travis
Starring: Denis Quaid, Forest Whitaker, Matthew Fox, William Hurt
Genre: Action, Thriller, Drama
Country: USA

Director Pete Travis (Omagh) takes his formative steps in the land of Hollywood and the big budget feature film with the multi perspective, real time thriller that sees an assassination attempt on the President of the United States at a summit in Salamanca, Spain.  As the Secret Service and the audience piece together the explosive events we race against the clock to prevent a terrorist plan that would alter the landscape of politics forever.

The cinematic notion that the camera doesn’t lie it just doesn’t always catch everything the first time around is nothing new to cinema.  Before Pete Travis was playing with it, Brian DePalma was working at mastering it and before that Alfred Hitchcock and John Huston were defining it.  It’s worth pointing out that all mentioned practitioners and quite a few unmentioned execute it with a lot more grace, precision, artistry and skill than Travis.  The best thing about Vantage Point is that it’s under two hours long, everything else…well everything else can be mapped out in the cavalcade of problems and clich├ęs that make this film.

Narratively the film is incredibly unoriginal, that’s not always an issue with the Action/Thriller but there’s simply nothing original about this film.  The storyline and twists make little to no sense, to the point where the crude tacked on explanation serves to do little more than insult the audience for wasting their time rather than fill in any character holes we have in our knowledge.  The twist is, also, not a twist at all as you spot it without binoculars from forty miles away within the first 120 seconds of the film.  The only narrative device the film has going for it is it’s use of real time and that is handled haphazardly to the point where it becomes annoying and if you take the multiple segments as stand alone and line them up one against the other you realise, to great anger, that you’ve been cheated.  The real time doesn’t match, it doesn’t work and they bend, move, manipulate and cheat their own rules when it suits them because the film honestly is by no way as intelligent as it likes to think it is.

The cast are also wasted.  Several performers in particular would have been better off passing on the film and staying home to watch re-runs of Cheers.  Dennis Quaid is usually an extremely interesting actor.  Granted a lot of the time he’s recycling performances but his well travelled look is one that we can trust in a film like this and though he’s given the lions share of detection to do because the script is so weak there’s zero point in even showing the slightest bit of interest.  Sigourney Weaver is criminally underused as Rex Brooks (the news producer sent to cover the summit) as she appears in two scenes (that I can remember) and does nothing but provide bland exposition for Quaid’s character (Thomas Barnes).  Matthew Fox is little more than what you’d expect from an actor who’s coming off a big TV hit and looking to appear in something.  It would appear that he’s taking his role in the new Alex Cross film a little more seriously, in Vantage Point he is Jack from Lost but in Spain.  Forest Whittaker who is usually so excellent in everything (after all he’s Ghost Dog!) is annoying to the point that you’re cheering for the bus to hit him whereas Said Taghmaoui, Zoe Saldana, William Hurt, Bruce McGill and James LeGros simply deserve better than underwritten characters in a poorly conceived and badly constructed piece of crap.

Do not, under any circumstances, watch this film.  It’s beyond insulting how bad it is and one can only hope that Travis has done a better job with Dredd than he’s done here as the fanboys of The Judge will be a lot less forgiving than I am.


Chip Lary said...

The first half to two thirds of this movie kept me interested as we learned a little more each time through, but when it devolved into the standard running/driving around to catch the bad guy, it lost me.

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