Sunday, July 6, 2008

Vantage Point

I skipped seeing this back in February when it was in theaters, due mostly to negative reviews from people who had seen it. But since it just came out on DVD, I decided to check it out for myself.

Vantage Point
Director: Pete Travis
Starring: Dennis Quaid, William Hurt, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker

I didn't think the movie was nearly as bad as people made it out to be. The concept was a variation on the old "interlocking stories" trend that's become prominent over the past few years: an event occurs, and we see it unfold from eight different perspectives of people who were involved. The event (a presidential assassination) is revealed with more clarity with each perspective, leading us eventually to find out how the entire thing was set up and who was directly involved. That's a pretty sweet concept if you ask me. I can't recall seeing something like that before, and I'm a proponent of originality on screen (I'm also a proponent of comic book movies, but get off me: I can enjoy both at the same time). I'll take this opportunity to refresh your memory with this trailer, one of the most chaotic trailers in recent memory.

Director Pete Travis makes his American debut similar to an episode of "24" with the camera work and subject matter. But make no mistake about it - this is not a recent season of "24" where nothing happens and there are generally boring things going on. Vantage Point features one of the best car chases of the past five years. If you'd like to ruin it for yourself, or you have no intention of ever watching the film but would like to see the car chase, then check it out below. It actually started before this clip picks up; this is just the last half of it. BUT BE WARNED! There are major plot details about the movie revealed by watching this clip, so just know that ahead of time and make your decision.

As far as overall quality of the movie goes, Vantage Point was enjoyable but not something of great artistic merit. I was entertained the whole time, but it's not the most in-depth political piece you'll ever see. In the opening scene, a reporter goes off on a little tirade on the air, launching into political content that shouldn't be featured in a news report. Sigourney Weaver (the news director) tells the reporter to "save the punditry for people who get paid for it." It almost seems like director Pete Travis took that advice to heart. He didn't make Vantage Point an overly political movie, which was surprising because that's what I thought it would turn into. Wisely, I think, he concentrated more on the POV gimmick and keeping the film cruising along at a good pace rather than taking the opportunity to deal low blows to President Bush or any other political figures. The only real political commentary I found was at the very end when they falsely announced on the news that the assassination plot was all done by one man (that's not really giving anything away, since you could infer that from the trailer). But even that commentary was almost more directed at today's partisan (and some claim, corrupt) news media than the people in the White House.

"Are you not entertained?!"

The acting was passable due to a script that didn't give the characters a whole lot of range. Forest Whitaker's "dad on vacation" and Dennis Quaid's "secret service agent looking for redemption" can only go so far when the other characters aren't complex enough to hold their own storylines. I respect them, though - they did what they could. And who needs a good script when you've got a gimmick to rely on? Just look at the upcoming Journey to the Center of the Earth. Give Vantage Point a chance if you're in the mood for a nicely-paced mystery thriller. Until next time...

1 comment:

Blogette said...

My personal favorite vantage point was the Spanish soap opera half-way through. As one of my friends said when we saw it in the theater: "That looked a lot sexier the first time they showed it."

I just couldn't take it seriously. But I wouldn't say I hated it or that it was bad.