VANTAGE POINT

 

THE STORY SO FAR…

Vantage Point, which aspires to be a cunningly twisted thriller, comes equipped with plenty of hurtling action, handheld camerawork, what-was-that? editing, and a plot that has multiple, contradictory agendas writhing like a nest of snakes. It’s all set a-boil within a few blocks of a town square in Spain where a U.S. President is targeted for assassination. Although the movie lasts 90 minutes, the events it depicts are mostly over with in a quarter-hour or so–but seen, rewound, and reseen from half a dozen different (you guessed it) vantage points. The first line in the credits reads “Original Film,” apparently the name of the production company. “Gimmick Movie” would be more accurate; the opening reel, effectively jolting, affords an initial overview of the events through the eyes, lenses, monitors, and dueling sensibilities of a TV news producer (Sigourney Weaver), her activist-minded reporter (Zoe Saldana) and crew. Everybodyâ??s in Salamanca (actually, Mexico City) for the start of an international conference to reaffirm Arab-Western commitment to the fight against terrorism. Terrorism, of course, sees this as an ideal moment to break out. As gunshots and explosions reduce everything to chaos, the clock is reset to zero and we proceed to revisit the scene as experienced by several Secret Service agents (namely Dennis Quaid and Matthew Fox), an American tourist with camcorder (Forest Whitaker), sundry locals–including three who may be caught up in a love triangle or a conspiracy or both–and even the President himself (William Hurt).

 

SPECIAL FEATURES:

  • Vantage Viewer: GPS Tracker – This feature lets viewers track the on-screen movements of each character throughout the film’s overlapping timeline
  • Surveillance Tapes: Outtake
  • An Inside Perspective: Interviews with the Cast and Crew
  • Plotting an Assassination: Interview with First-time Screenwriter Barry Levy
  • Coordinating Chaos: Stunt Featurette
  • Commentary with Director Pete Travis

THE BREAKDOWN:

  • Video: I’ve now seen this film in the best presentation outside of theatrical exhibition.
  • Audio: English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
  • Extras: Vantage Viewer, Outtakes, Commentary and more
  • Packaging: Standard Blu-Ray keepcase
  • Final Tally: 94% – A

THE THOUGHTS:

President Ashton (William Hurt) of the United States comes to Spain to speak at a terrorism summit. As he’s about to make his speech, shots ring out and the President is on the ground. The entire film then focuses on certain people in the area, who either witnessed or planned the attack. From a Secret Service agent (Dennis Quaid) to a tourist (Forest Whitaker), each view is shown before, during, and after the assassination, which pieces the clues together about who is responsible and why they are doing it.

For a film like “Vantage Point” to work, it needs to be smart. Unfortunately, it’s not. By throwing many paper-thin characters into the mix, the writer probably tried to confuse the viewer and make everything seem complex, when all the while it’s quite simple. As the movie progressed, I would call what would happen next and who the bad guys were. Almost 95% of the time I was right and it really just made the film seem lazy.

The characters in the film were fairly one-dimensional. Luckily, a solid cast was there to make them slightly interesting. In my mind, Dennis Quaid is one of the most underrated actors in film. He seems to make every film he’s in better than it should be (even “Jaws 3-D”). Even though I would have liked more development with his character, he does a great job and makes his scenes the most interesting. Poor Matthew Fox. “You know what’s interesting about him? …Nothing.” Oh, how right Seth Rogen was in “Knocked Up”. The same can be said for his performance. William Hurt does a fine job with what he had to do. Not much was required. Forest Whitaker didn’t do much for me, which is disappointing due to how much I enjoyed him in “The Last King of Scotland”. He had a lot of “off” moments throughout the film. And, Sigourney Weaver…she picked up a paycheck.

The idea of different perspectives to show one occurrence is interesting, but it’s not executed properly. First, by having so many characters, the audience cannot relate with anyone in the film. With less perspectives, there would be more time for character development, which would have benefited this film. Secondly, the director cheats the audience by not giving the true perspective of each individual. For instance, a character may have been nowhere near the assassination, but when the shots are heard, they cut away to a scene of the president being shot. If the character is not allowed to see the incident visually, neither should the audience. In a way, it’s like breaking the fourth wall and it takes you out of the film. Finally, as each story progresses, one can tell that the director is leaving out certain clues that the audience is not allowed to pick up until later in the film. If a character sees something that shocks them or makes them run away, the director may hold out on what they saw until the end so that the audience will be even more shocked supposedly. Again, this doesn’t work for me, because we, the audience, are supposed to see their perspectives and by not showing the catalyst of their actions, it’s breaking the promise that the film gave to the viewers.

The Blu-Ray disc is a nice release that shows off the dynamic range of the recently released film. It’s just that there isn’t a ton of reasons to sit through the film again. Luckily, the amazing special features pick the film out of the gutter. The amazing A/V Quality is almost reference quality, but it falls a little short. Still, it’s worth a cautious buy.

 

RELEASE DATE: 07/01/08

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