Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thrilling, From Any Vantage Point

Vantage Point

Realease: 02/22/2008
Rated PG-13
1 hour, 30 minutes

Matinee ($$$)

The setting: Salamanca, Spain. U.S. President Ashton, played by William Hurt (Syriana), faces a massive crowd gathered to mark the opening of an anti-terrorism summit. No sooner than he reaches the podium, two shots ring out. Shortly thereafter, an explosion is heard in the distance followed by another, more damaging explosion within the plaza. The Vantage Point of the GNN news crew attempts to follow the commotion under the leadership of producer Rex Brooks, portrayed by Sigourney Weaver (Tadpole). She barks orders to follow the President and his entourage. Just as the events reach their climax, the onscreen images blur to white and rewind back to the event’s beginning. You read that right; the film visibly backpedals, which takes us to...

Vantage Point, Take 2: Secret Service agent Thomas Barnes, played by Dennis Quaid (Any Given Sunday), prepares to guard the President for the first time since taking a bullet for the man six months earlier. Although other agents question his ability to handle the pressure, when the proverbial shit hits the fan, Barnes steps up to kick ass and take names. Seriously, you get the feeling that Quaid’s character woke up with the intention that he will, at any lengths, kill a mother fucker before the day is out. But before he can go all T-1000 on the bad guys, let’s blur to white, queue the annoying rewind visualization and…

Vantage Point, Take 3: Lonely American tourist Howard Lewis, played by Forest Whitaker (Phone Booth), soaks up the atmosphere in the crowded plaza. Being particularly observant, he sees the hackles on Barnes’ neck rise and uses his handycam to find the source of the tension. Further proving the selfless nature of Americans, he places himself in harm’s way to assist the Secret Service, but will he have the huevos rancheros necessary to save the day? A blur to white and a sigh of exasperation from the audience as we suffer through the rewind to…

Vantage Point, Take 4, 5, etc., featuring performances by Bruce McGill (Collateral), Matthew Fox (Smokin’ Aces), Said Tagmaoui (Hidalgo) and other actors whose characters all see stuff and do stuff while the audience picks up a few more pieces to the puzzle. Do all the rewind, rinse and repeat moments make it worth watching? Absolutely. I anticipated some sort of transition to shift amid the eight differing points of view, although I had hoped for a clever segue instead of the elementary, jarring effect used. I cannot say if I was more exasperated by the transitions or audience’s boisterous exasperation with them. My fellow audience members, after the second time it happens you either get fed up and leave or deal with it; don’t be a loud dick about it. But I digress. Transitions aside, the plot grabs your attention and keeps you involved from the ring of the first gunshot.

Dirty Undies
I didn’t always feel like the gunshots and car chases were all that harrowing. If the chase camera had been pulled back I think the action would have been better visualized. But a blurry, erratic barrage of bumpers and tires is the mainstay of modern cinema. Quaid is unstoppable almost to the point of unbelievable, but you’ll eat up every minute of it.

The Money Shot
If you miss the details of what transpires in those opening minutes, have no fear, the film delivers what it promises, take after take. It’s a bit implausible (if the Secret Service were really this inept, the last eight years would’ve been quite different for the U.S.), but few films are without their faults. Quaid fans will relish seeing him in a hefty role. I just hope the success of Vantage Point doesn’t inspire a dozen nauseatingly similar premises in the coming years.

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  1. Good review. The first one I've read on this movie. I was looking forward to this, and even more so now after reading your review. I just did a review of the score for it and thought it was a well produced action score. Can't wait to see this movie.

  2. Glad you liked the review and I hope you find the movie to your liking. I've seen a lot of bad reviews for this but I'm an action junkie and this fit the bill.

  3. I'm afraid my review will be another of the fair-to-bad variety. The Mrs. thought it was terrible; I didn't think it was quite that bad, but the more I think about it, the worse it gets...

  4. @fletch - I tried not to think about it at all after I left. The holes and problems with it were big enough to pass a 747 through. I got to see Quaid kick butt and that was good enough for me.

    Did the crappy rewind effect turn Mrs. Fletch off or was it more than that?