Vantage Point is, unapologetically, a gimmick movie, and on that level it works. It’s refreshing to see a film based around politics that isn’t preachy, doesn’t have an agenda, and instead just goes for straight-up frenetic action. That’s not to say it doesn’t become maddening repetitive at times (only about a third of the film is substantive story), but the final twenty minutes and some nice twists make the whole thing worthwhile.
The structure is simple, but the spider web forms quickly as we delve deeper. The President of the United States (Hurt) is in Spain to attend an anti-terror summit. Protesters line the location where the President is set to speak, and shortly into his speech the unthinkable happens: shots ring out, pandemonium breaks out, and the search for the shooter begins. The madness is told from eight different points of view, with each perspective revealing a new clue.
Director Pete Travis keeps the pace at a feverish pitch from minute one, and it works to the film’s advantage as the audience is never given an extended amount of time to process the information. The chaos that would undoubtedly ensue after such an event is captured and played up to the max. Where Travis and screenwriter Barry Levy nearly blow it is in the first two acts, where the audience is toyed with to the point where it looks as if it will never end. Then the rewinding ends and we’re treated to an action-filled finale that seals up all the initial leaks.
No one stands out in the large cast, but much of the proceedings fall on the shoulders of Dennis Quaid. Looking and acting like the heir-apparent to any old school Harrison Ford role, Quaid hams things up a bit but nevertheless emerges as a suitable hero. The supporting work by fine actors such as Forest Whitaker, William Hurt, and Sigourney Weaver is surprisingly unmemorable, but Whitaker is at least able to penetrate his character’s arcs with a convincing performance.
If you’ve seen any element of the intense marketing campaign for the film, you know exactly what you’re getting into. The fact that the screenplay refrains from smug political commentary and instead focuses on action and mystery enhances the experience. Is there anything new to be found here? Not really, but those who need to escape the cold with an engaging action flick sure could do a lot worse.
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Length: 90 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense violence and action, some disturbing images and brief strong language.
Theatrical Release: February 22, 2008
Directed by: Pete Travis
Written by: Barry Levy
Cast: Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, William Hurt, Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver, Shelby Fenner