a critiQal film review Vantage Point (2008)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: An attempted assassination of President Ashton (Hurt) on a trip to Spain is told from different viewpoints including those of Secret Service Agent Barber (Quaid); fellow agent Taylor (Fox); American tourist Howard (Whitaker) and an American TV news desk operator (Weaver).

Reviewed
706 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 31s)

Since seeing previews for Vantage Point a few months ago, I had been wanting to see the film. Money constraints at the time prevented us from seeing this one in theaters, but once it hit DVD, it was at the top of my list.

So would the differing viewpoints of an assassination attempt on a president make for gripping film-making, or was I in for some repetitive boredom?

Dennis Quaid, looking much much older than he did in the recent , does an excellent job here as a Secret Service Agent. Troubled by a past gunshot wound in his service career, his character isn’t exactly at the top of his game as the film begins. As the film progresses, however, and the situation continues to spiral out of control, the viewer can see him digging down and pulling on reserves he didn’t even know he had.

He’s single-minded in his obsession to find the shooter, and despite some jitters, he throws himself wholeheartedly into the task. One of the best performances from Quaid in quite some time – he’s definitely gotten better as the years have progressed, and it’s nice to see him back on top once more.

The rest of the cast also perform admirably, even Matthew Fox, whose recent was such a stellar disappointment. True, he doesn’t have the onscreen presence of Quaid, Sigourney Weaver or William Hurt, but he does manage to keep up with them decently enough in Vantage Point.

William Hurt seems a great casting choice to play the President in Vantage Point. Looking like a man used to power, he showcases the qualities the American public wants in their President: strong willed and not prone to rash decisions (a parallel between the start of the current Iraq situation and the urgings of his aides to attack a friendly Arab country after the assassination attempt can easily be drawn, yet the actions he takes are a far cry from what our current president chose to do).

Hurt also takes on another role, acting as the President’s stand-in (which leads to a rather funny “he doesn’t even look like me” quip from Hurt’s President). While the stand-in isn’t in the film a lot, he does seem slightly different than Hurt’s President character, and is easily distinguishable – at first glance, viewers may think that the stand-in actually isn’t played by Hurt, thanks to Hurt’s subtle changes to his character.

The rest of the cast also perform extremely well, including Forest Whitaker as a tourist with a strong sense of patriotism and Edgar Ramirez as a Spanish cop that suspects he may unwittingly be part of the plot.

Unlike most films, the majority of Vantage Point takes place in 23 minutes. The first 23 minutes is played out, and the viewer is expecting the movie to continue along the normal timeline. Instead, the film looks to rewind itself, and showcase the same sequence of events (the attempted assassination) from a different viewpoint. While this may concept may seem dull to some, for those viewers who have enjoyed films like Groundhog Day and Run Lola Run will appreciate how interesting this repeating can be.

Even those movies were limited, however, as they showcased the same time frame from the viewpoint of the main character (Bill Murray and Franka Potente, respectively). With Vantage Point, they are able to shift the viewpoint to another character – and thus reveal more clues with each repetition. And, just when those 23 minutes are getting a little old, suddenly the movie stops rewinding, and continues on to the surprise conclusion.

This slow revealing of clues throughout the same time frame is very interesting to watch. And, when the viewer’s attention is about to wane, the film continues on, surprising the viewer back to full attentive mode.

If the storyline weren’t totally solid, it would not stand up to the repeated viewings in the film. Thankfully, however, Vantage Point has a very strong story backing it up, and viewers will be hooked right up to the very end.

With the strong cast, solid storyline and the repetition seen in Groundhog Day and Run Lola Run used to it’s full advantage, Vantage Point turns out to be a top-notch thriller, and definitely worth the rental.

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