Written by Barry Levy and Directed by Pete Travis, Vantage Point centers around an assasination attempt on the President of the United States of America. The high speed political thriller is told and re-told from several different perspectives of those involved and those in the crowd.
In Spain, the President of the United States (William Hurt) is shot before making a speech to promote a peace summit. The paniced crowd runs in all directions, and just as secret service agents, reporters and everyone else are all starting to try and make sense of things, a large explosion goes off, killing many civilians and injuring numerous more. That is the stage for this ensemble thriller, edited with urgency and moving at a mile a minute to slowly reveal the truth behind who did it, why and the attempted cover-up.
Most movies these days have the burden of stretching maybe an hour’s worth of quality story into a full length movie. This is usually accomplished by stretching out an action scene, such as a chase thru crowded streets or a high speed car chase, or adding what I like to call “fluff plot”, where a movie needlessly develops a minor character more than necessary and then kills them off shortly later. Basically, in these cases, the film is banking on gripping the audience by hopefully making them feel attached to certain smaller characters in the movie and then killing them to add a sense of urgency or drama, a feeling that anyone could die at any moment.
In Vantage Point, Director Pete Travis uses the full arsenal, attempting to literally take 20 minutes of story and see how far he can stretch it, retelling the same 20 minutes several times, sometimes to quite annoying lengths. The first time or so, its quite captivating to see the assasination attempt and what occurs afterward and then get the “cliffhanger” ending to that segement and then jump to the next point of view. About a half-hour into the movie, however, it gets really old. Finally, for about the last 35 minutes or so, the movie does break this mold, opens up a bit and concludes the film cohesively, jumping from character to character as the story wraps up, but before that it is an aggrivating political thriller, which attempts to add every concievable twist it can. Wiether this is because the film was just poorly written, or maybe they couldn’t decide where to go and so they did it all, or maybe its just an excuse to stretch the movie out, which is my best guess, but whatever it was, it didn’t work very well.
Filled with many recognizable actors, including Dennis Quaid, Forrest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver, Matthew Fox, Zoe Saldana and Bruce McGill, Vantage Point does sport a remarkably well casted ensemble, however the constant gimics and last second twists to stretch the story is what ultimately hurts the movie. It seems like it would’ve made a great episode of “24” or another such show, but as movie, it just doesn’t have enough to it to make it very satisfying.