Movie Review: Vantage Point (2008)
Eight strangers, eight points of view and each one holds a piece of the puzzle. I saw the trailer for Vantage Point, and thought it had some neatly packed scenes that deserved my attention (even though I’m not a fan of gimmick movies). So I walked into the theater to surrender myself to the joys of a well-constructed suspense thriller which involved the shooting of POTUS (President Of The United States). 20 minutes after getting comfortable, I thought I should probably look for the exit. I should think who ever read the preceding sentence knows exactly how this movie review is going to turn out.
Vantage Point directed by first timer Pete Travis, is numbingly average to say the least. The wannabe terrorism cliffhanger starts off electrifyingly enough through the eyes of Rex Brooks (Sigourney Weaver), the head of a news crew covering an international summit at a plaza in Spain where world leaders have gathered to combat terrorism. The President of the United States (William Hurt) gets shot, bombs explode and smoke deluges the crowd. But you already know this if you’ve seen the trailer half asleep. The movie then rewinds to instant replay what just happened from the perspective of another witness. I think I could have got into the whole rewind mode if it had not happened seven times! That’s right – seven fuckin’ times! So when I said after first 20 minutes I looked around for the exit, that was somewhere around the third retake.
Clearly this is not a movie to take its audience’s intelligence for granted. It doesn’t completely suck – some of the surprise shootings and explosions got me into the movie and just when I got into it, another rewind occurred with the timestamp going back to 12 noon. Honestly, after the fifth time, I could hear a collective sigh (and maybe some sobbing) resonate through the theater. Some of the twists I did not see it coming, but for most part they were all either predictable, in the trailer or in some cases awfully silly. Forest Whitaker’s character, Howard Lewis, is the goofiest. Oscar winning Whitaker’s mighty role in the movie was a nutty conceit, running around trying to save the day by videotaping everything, a la Cloverfield or The Blair Witch Project.
That wasn’t the only irritant. I wasn’t entirely sure what was going through the director’s mind when he had his main character Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid) hit by two cars and a truck, and not even end up with a limp (I believe he may have had some minor scratches though). A movie like this needs believability to work. Somewhere in between, Quaid, playing the archetypal, sincere secret agent manages to remain inconsequential, Forest Whitaker proves he can run while filming and Matthew Fox shows us why he should never have gotten off that damn island (he can’t act). The cast is blameless of course – they’re doing the best they can with Travis’ vision. Yet in all fairness, the premise of the movie is actually riveting. Throw in a couple of atypical terrorists – beardless and well dressed, vague references to Morocco and a stunt double for the president – you actually have the formula for a box office cinch. But Peter Travis manages to make a fine mess of it all by his Rewind. Repeat. Replay formula.
I wouldn’t be complaining if the movie had an exhilarating climatic sequence or an incredulous twist to legitimize its hysterical tone but Vantage Point has neither and in consequence, falls awfully short of doing its job well as a mindless mainstream thriller.