“The beauty of American arrogance is that they can’t imagine a world where they’re not a step ahead.”
Rated PG-13. Out on DVD. Directed by Pete Travis. Written by Barry Levy. Starring Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt, Bruce McGill, Eduardo Noriega, Edgar Ramirez, Said Taghmaoui, Ayelet Zurer and Zoe Saldana.
When I first saw the trailer for Vantage Point it seemed like it could be a decent action movie with an interesting (and unoriginal, but that’s okay) narrative device — one event, in this case the assassination of the President — told from multiple viewpoints. Not to mention a pretty solid cast with a number of acclaimed actors — Oscar winners and nominees and others who I happen to like. However, a really, really shitty script filled with plot holes, stilted dialogue, lame, predictable twists and one hell of a cheesy ending absolutely torpedoes a promising idea.
The opening sequence was not particularly compelling, thanks in part to haphazard direction and truly horrendous line reading from both Sigourney Weaver and an atrocious awful Zoe Saldana as part of a news team covering an international summit on terrorism in Spain. We see the assassination (it’s not much of a spoiler to reveal this, it happens about 3 minutes in) from their point of view before it switches. From there, we get a number of different perspectives, with each revealing a little more of the story.
We get the stories from the point of view of the Secret Service agents (Quaid & Fox), the American tourist (Whitaker), the President (Hurt), the shady Spanish cop (Noriega, from Abre Los Ojos) amongst others. There are a couple of parts where the concept is used to further the story, but mostly it serves as a distraction to a fairly straightforward plot. All it does is highlight the extremely inconsistent timing (and some huge, glaring plot holes that come with it) and ridiculous coincidences that leave all the characters in the same area for the climax.
For such a strong cast, the best performance is Quaid’s, only because it’s not that obvious that he’s phoning it in. The rest range from wasted (Noriega) to bad (Fox…oh, Jack, pick your movies better) to embarrassing (Whitaker, you just won a Oscar, for fuck’s sake) in what little screen time each character has. None of the characters gets much of a back story and there is no real motivation shown for their actions. The direction is sloppy and jump-cuts and close-ups don’t mask the lack of suspense.
There was also a twist that was revealed in the trailer which is pretty annoying — not that the movie would have been saved by me not knowing it, but it would have been a little surprise, I suppose.
Two more rants — first, for some strange reason, there’s no blood or even bulletholes during either the assassination or a flashback to Quaid’s character taking a bullet a year earlier. You know, PG-13 movies can show blood….it made no sense and made it seem like a 70s TV show, where the bullets fly, people pretend to get hit and there’s never any blood. Second, there’s an annoying little girl who is just absolutely fucking brutal in every possible way who a major part of the plot revolves around.
The only saving graces are its length (84 minutes of a shitty movie is better than 2 1/2 hours of one) and the fact that they tried something reasonably fresh for the genre. It didn’t work, but at least they tried.