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  • Movie: Vantage Point
  • Reviewed Format: Theatrical
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Starring: Dennis Quaid, William Hurt, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker,
  • Written By: Barry L. Levy
  • Directed By: Pete Travis
  • Distributor: Columbia Pictures


An action thriller with a backfiring narrative twist

By Abbie Bernstein     February 22, 2008

Forest Whitaker tries to help through the violence of VANTAGE POINT(2008).
© Columbia Pictures

VANTAGE POINT, per its title, is a thriller that uses the device of showing us the same event from multiple perspectives. This could work – except that there’s not enough mystery in the original events in the way they’re presented for us to become intrigued by new revelations about them. Consequently, the different vantage points are less engrossing than they are repetitive – by the fourth time we return to 11:59 AM in Spain, the immediate response is a giggle, a groan or maybe both.

In fairness to director Pete Travis, it should be said at the outset that he stages explosions, invasions and especially car chases with thrilling flair – there’s an extended vehicular pursuit through the streets of Salamanca (played in the movie by Mexico City) that is reminiscent in a good way of the pedal-to-the-metal sequence in THE FRENCH CONNECTION. What Travis and writer Barry L. Levy do less successfully is tease out our curiosity – they don’t set up plot points so that reversals come as a surprise. Instead, we’re still processing the dense but not especially brain-teasing information as new information comes along; for all the effect it has, they might as well be telling the tale in linear fashion.

President Ashton (William Hurt) of the United States is scheduled to speak at an international anti-terrorism summit in Spain. However, shortly after he steps to the podium, he is shot – moments later, there is a massive explosion. Who is responsible? How did they pull it off? What will the U.S. government do about it? Can the larger plot be stopped?

In the current climate, one can’t really accuse VANTAGE POINT of being apolitical – we do know where Ashton stands on at least one controversial issue – but the filmmakers wind up with fairly generic terrorists. At the end, we’re no wiser to their specific goals than we are at the beginning, despite all that delving into details. We also don’t get many misleads to make us surprised – when a Secret Service agent reacts to something he sees on a videotape, we don’t know what he’s looking at, so when we find out what he’s seen, our reaction is less amazement than acceptance: after all, it’s not as though we’ve been set up to expect to see something else instead.

Hurt plays the Commander in Chief as a man of integrity and Dennis Quaid is fierce as can be as a loyal bodyguard. Forest Whitaker is engaging as a tourist caught up in the chaos and Sigourney Weaver does some good character work as a news professional straining to balance personal reaction with getting the job done.

VANTAGE POINT has some good stuff in it, but the story it has to tell and the method it employs to tell it are at odds with one another.


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goatartist 2/22/2008 8:08:30 AM
Good review as always. I pretty much figured that would be the case with it. It really never had a shot at getting my ten bucks anyway.
rgtchtiger 2/22/2008 12:21:38 PM
I'm really bummed. I was looking forward to checking this out, but reading the movie is mediocre at best for some very valid reasons is disappointing. I guess it's an example of a movie that started as a good idea but couldn't find the proper pay off in the end.
muchdrama1 2/22/2008 4:41:07 PM
Why listen to one review? It's just some guy's opinion. 90% of the reviews on this site are completely off anyway.
RaithManan 2/22/2008 7:03:48 PM
I intend to catch this movie. It looks good, despite one reviewer's opinion. Don't forget, not too long ago, critics was hugging Cloverfield's jock and most people hated it for a wide range of reasons. (much of the complaint was how it was filmed)...In fact that was the last movie I saw. So its time to get back into theaters and I'll catch this movie shortly.
laforcer69@yahoo.com_home 2/22/2008 8:36:43 PM
The thing about the dummies complaining about Clover Field is, they knew how it was filmed and was advertised as such, there's no denying that...I honestly can't see jumper being any better than this movie and will not depend on the one review to decide wether or not I go and see it...If the main complaint is all about the points of view and how they don't really show much more than the previous view I have no complaints because the action and actors or good enough for me to go but I would have liked the points of view to help further the story as the title indicates...That's just me though... Raithmanan...Just to let you know I'm not calling you a dummy big guy lol even if the filming was your main complaint...
experiMENTAL 2/23/2008 6:22:39 AM
That's a sweet booster seat in the advertising section...(idle observation complete) Does Forrest Whitaker's crazy eye have it's own vantage point or no?
RaithManan 2/23/2008 9:40:03 AM
Its all good Enforcer..just was pointing out some of the complaints people had with Cloverfield. While I thought it was ok, it left me wanting more. Being only 84 minutes left me unfulfilled. Either some hated it because it ws filmed that way (although its not a good thing when a movie is causing vertigo among its patrons), or they hated the ending or just had a hard time believing that someone would be fooling around with the camera for so long knowing that chaos is happening. Personally the camera was the star of the movie. Such durable equipment. Just like Bill Paxton's truck in Twister, amazing durability.
rgtchtiger 2/23/2008 9:46:04 AM
I've actually read several reviews on various websites and newspapers and they all basically say that by the fourth time the movie repeats the opening event things get really repetitive and the gimmick wears out. I may still see the film but will probably wait until it's on video to check it out.
RaithManan 2/23/2008 9:52:32 AM
Now that the snowy, icy roads are much better today. Probably will catch Vantage Point.


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