Friday, February 29, 2008

Vantage Point

Vantage Point is a gimmick movie. It features the same story from eight different viewpoints that each reveal something new about the same incident. Nothing new is really offered here, except this gimmick. Surprisingly, it seems to work for the most part. Apparently they couldn't keep this up for the entire movie, though, because the concept breaks down a little after the halfway point, and it becomes an action move like any other.

You're going to have to suspend all disbelief before going into Vantage Point. The movie is nothing but over elaborate amounts of characters and pretty unbelievable coincidences. The entire movie takes place over the course of a very short period of time- no more than an hour. The event is a presidential assassination attempt, shown several times, with a little bit more revealed every time. Dennis Quaid stars as the president's (William Hurt) bodyguard. The movie essentially opens with the attack, and as Quaid figures something out, we are flashed back to find out what happened.

The rest of the cast is fairly reputable as well (if you can call Dennis Quaid reputable). Forrest Whitaker plays the ultimate good samaritan tourist, and acts like we all hope we would in that situation. Sigourney Weaver plays a surprisingly small role as a news director. Matthew Fox plays Quaid's partner, and cast of relative unknowns fill out the rest. There were a lot of characters in this movie, and I frequently lost track of who was who, and what their roles were. I know this is kind of the point of the movie, but even after things were revealed I still found myself not completely following some parts- which I found mildly annoying.

Vantage Point didn't play out like a mystery that we were swept up in (which would have been pretty neat). We seldom see the clues as Quaid does. Instead we're shown everything that lead up to it, leaving nothing for us to actually figure out. My only complaint about this is actually a trend that is plaguing the entire movie industry today- they gave away the biggest surprise in the trailer. Now the only thing we're really surprised by is rather tacked on, and not all that motivated.

I did appreciate the flow of the different points of view. Director Pete Travis, and writer Barry Levi took a fairly intelligent approach to this. It starts out with the camera crew's point of view, gradually moving in closer to the point of view of the assassins themselves. Not only is this the logical approach to slowly revealing more information, but it also eases the audience into the story. We start out from the most objective point of view, almost literally seeing the event from afar. Then we're pulled deeper into it with each iteration. I just wish they didn't fall into the gimmick of actually rewinding the film each time. Video plays a major roll in the movie, with Quaid putting the pieces together from 3 different cameras, but come on.

I can't talk about this movie without mentioning the fantastic car chase that consumes the final ten minutes. It's up there with Ronin miraculously speeding through narrow Spanish streets. There were many complaints about the unrealistic nature of this, and the even more unrealistic super-human speed possessed by Whitaker. Though these are valid complaints, they didn't bother me at all during the movie. When a chase seen (both in cars and on foot) is crafted this well to keep me excited for the entire duration, those little nit-picky details don't matter. It did its job and kept me on edge the whole time.

Some parts worked, and some parts didn't. It's still just an action movie, with fairly disappointing or unexplained twists. But it is exciting, and they manage to keep the same event interesting eight different times. They have to be given credit for that.


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