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"Vantage Point" movie poster

Vantage Point

Genre: Drama/Thriller
Rated: PG-13
Directed by:
Pete Travis
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt
Released by: Columbia Pictures

In Short: Several points of view are explored in this exciting, yet slightly implausible action thriller about a U.S. president’s assassination while at a summit meeting in Spain.
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Rewind One More Time
Shifting Perspectives
by Jenny Peters

"Vantage Point" is a film that follows a stellar pedigree, that of Akira Kurosawa’s 1950 masterpiece “Rashomon,” in which moving from one character’s perspective to another’s of the same incident eventually reveals the true story. Unfortunately, “Vantage Point” director Pete Travis is not quite as skilled as the legendary Japanese master—but he certainly knows how to shoot a car chase.

The story takes place in Salamanca, Spain (a gorgeous place to set a movie), as U.S. President Ashton (William Hurt) arrives at a jam-packed town square to attend an international summit meeting. His Secret Service bodyguards, Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid) and Kent Taylor (Matthew Fox), are on close watch as he takes the podium, but despite that, shots ring out, a bomb goes off and all hell breaks loose.

Forest Whitaker, Dennis Quaid and Matthew Fox in "Vantage Point"
Sigourney Weaver in "Vantage Point"

We see this first from the perspective of a news production team (headed by Sigourney Weaver); and then again, and again, and again, get the idea. In fact, we go backwards so many times that at one point an audible groan went up from the audience, which is never a good sign. We see the events unfold from the point of view of the recently-wounded Barnes (a role Quaid makes compelling), from that of an American onlooker in the crowd (Forest Whitaker) and from the eyes of the terrorist who has planned the elaborate plot.

The film's plot does take some interesting twists and turns as it rewinds and re-views the events, and Travis keeps the action moving at a very brisk pace. But when he takes us on a careening auto chase through the narrow streets of this ancient European city, “Vantage Point” begins to skid off to the point where the ability to suspend disbelief is gone. There’s just no way keep on believing that this story could possibly happen. And the implausibilities mount as the flick roars into its unforgivably corny final scenes.

Overall, “Vantage Point” offers up a number of interesting ideas about terrorism, politics, loyalty and betrayal, but in the end it devolves into a predictable, easily forgettable—and disappointing—thriller.

PAK020508 (Updated: 02/26/08 AK)

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