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Will You See a Good Thriller from Your Vantage Point?
Feb 23, 2008 (Updated Jul 4, 2008)
Review by Mark Baker
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Cons:Unique premise doesn't quite work out
The Bottom Line: This is a blood pumping thriller that doesn't quite live up to its premise.
Vantage Point is a thriller with an unique concept. It tells one story from multiple points of view. It takes all those view points to give us the complete picture. While there are some flaws in the execution, it really works well.
Recommend this product?
The leaders of the world are meeting in a small Spanish town for a summit to iron out the details of an anti-terrorism treaty. Naturally, GNN (Global Network News) has a huge crew on the scene. The on the ground producer Rex Brooks (Sigourney Weaver) is trying to keep things running smoothly. Just as President Ashton (William Hurt) steps up to the stage, he is shot. As the jittery crowd begins to react, there is an explosion.
Back up to the beginning of the events. Two secret service agents (Dennis Quaid and Matthew Fox) are at the President's hotel. They accompany him to the town square and are standing on stage. Tom (Dennis Quaid) is convinced he saw something from an upstairs window. Just as other agents report it was just a fan, the President is shot. Tom quickly grabs the camera of a tourist in the crowd (Forest Whitaker) to see if he captured any pertinent information while the other agent tries to catch the shooter who they think was in a different window.
Back up to the beginning of the events
They flip back and forth several times, each time giving us the events from a slightly different point of view and leaving us with another cliffhanger. Finally, they begin to show us how all these different points of view come together.
The movie starts out using the multiple points of view well. With each retelling of the events, we saw a slightly different piece of the puzzle. Or almost did. How all these events fit together is left up in the air until the end.
And it's the end where the unique storytelling falls apart. While all of our main characters play a part in the climax, only we know what they all saw. Maybe it was my expectations, but I found that disappointing. I was expecting all the characters to work together to find the solution. Instead, coincidence ruled the day.
The story devise of going back in time was interesting, but did get annoying. I could sense the audience I saw it with getting frustrated every time we backtracked to noon to see it from a different point of view. I was patient enough for once or twice, but by the last time they did it, I was frustrated as well. The movie spends an hour replaying those first few events.
Trust me, the pay off is completely worth it.
I was on the edge of my seat several times, and my eyes were glued to the screen for the climax. Was all the action believable? No. But we very rarely expect that from our action films. It did work for this movie, however. There are many intense scenes. I was completely caught up in the thrill ride and loving every minute of it.
Admittedly the characters are rather weak. This is more a problem with the premise then the script or the acting. The acting was fine. I can't pin point a bad performance in the bunch. With the exception of one or two, the characters are interesting. But we hardly get to know any of them. While we can keep all the characters straight, no one character gets enough time to become real for us.
That might be a problem if this movie were about the characters. It isn't. This movie is about the plot, and it does that extremely well.
Here's a brief aside for you. Part of the background color of the movie is a bunch of anti-America protesters. That's fine. But twice as they panned across the crowd, I clearly saw a sign that had a W crossed out. What does that have to do with anything in the movie? Either the producers just used some footage from a protest and didn't catch that (less likely) or they were trying to sneak in a political statement. Which ever it was, I found it threw me out of the film.
If you want a truly entertaining thriller, give Vantage Point a chance. It has some flaws, but in the end, it is well worth seeing.
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