Friday, July 18, 2008

Vantage Point (2008)

Phil McCullough: Sir, we have to act strong.
President Ashton (William Hurt): No, we have to BE strong.

At a glance: Multiple point of views, top-shelf action, and a name cast bolster the sometimes goofy script in this mostly exciting action film about a presidential assassination attempt.

US President Ashton (William Hurt) is on the brink of signing an historical pact to combat global terrorism. While appearing before a large crown in Spain, Ashton is shot – and soon after, a huge explosion rocks the open square where he had been standing. We see this through the eyes and multiple cameras of a US television station, as orchestrated by Rex Brooks (Sigourney Weaver). Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid) was on the Secret Service agents assigned to protect the president on that day. After the incident, he enters the TV control room and sees something interesting on a playback monitor. Through numerous flashbacks and POVs, we see what happened through the eyes of other parties. Enrique (Eduardo Noriega) is a local cop assigned to protect the mayor. When he rushes the podium after the shots, he is arrested by the Secret Service as a suspect, but he escapes after the bombing, His girlfriend may have been an accomplice. We also get the perspective of a tourist with a video camera (Forest Whitaker), and a few other surprise guests. More than competently filmed thriller is weakened by a peppering of people doing the kinds of stupid things that people in thrillers are asked to do by stupid scriptwriters who are trying to make the action more exciting (like, for example, would a little girl who has lost her mother look for her in the middle of a busy highway?). There are some contrived dramatic notes, and some dialogue that just doesn’t work, but the action elements are top-notch. Some reviewers condemned the last 30 minutes of this film, but I found the long car chase quite exhilarating.

One thought I had (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT) When the terrorists captured the second, real, president, I couldn’t help but think: why not have 3 lookalikes? The real one could be at the ranch in Texas!

Star Trek Alert: Zoe Saldana, who does a decent job of playing young reporter Angie Jones in a brief but important scene at the beginning of the film, will be playing Uhura in Star Trek XI (release date: May 2009). Rating: 2.5 of 4

"The stories are cleverly interwoven, with a couple of unexpected twists, and the patient viewer is rewarded with a doozy of a car chase in the last reel."
- Paul Arendt (BBC)

"Those inclined to scrutinize the logic of Barry Levy's screenplay are likely to come away as baffled by its farfetched twists as amused by its bombastic excesses."
- Rossiter Drake (San Francisco Examiner)

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