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February 22, 2008 | Comments ()


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Pete and Repeat Went Up a Hill. Pete Fell Down. Who Is Left?

Vantage Point / Dustin Rowles

Film Reviews | February 22, 2008 | Comments ()


The conceit in director Pete Travis’ Vantage Point is a relatively novel one (if you don’t count Rashamon, though I can’t for the life of the figure why you’d want to since it’s about approximately 4,132,657 times better than this movie, if you’re counting at home): The same set of scenes is told from the viewpoint of several different characters, though each viewpoint veers slightly off into new territory after the main action, resulting mostly in a five-minute exposition being obnoxiously, irritatingly, painfully repeated several times. Set in an outside venue in Spain, the first viewpoint is from inside a news van set up near the location of an anti-terrorist summit, where the President of the United States (William Hurt) is meeting with other heads of state.

The conceit in director Pete Travis’ Vantage Point is a relatively novel one: The same set of scenes is told from the viewpoint of several different characters, though each viewpoint veers slightly off into new territory after the main action, resulting mostly in a five-minute exposition being obnoxiously repeated several times. Set in an outside venue in Spain, the first viewpoint is from inside a news van set up near the location of an anti-terrorist summit, where the President of the United States (William Hurt) is meeting with other heads of state. The second viewpoint is from a psychologically-damaged Secret Service Agent (Dennis Quaid), who is back on the President’s detail for the first time since he took a bullet for him six months prior. He is standing near the president when the POTUS is shot twice.

The conceit in director Pete Travis’ Vantage Point is a relatively novel one: The same set of scenes is told from the viewpoint of several different characters, though each viewpoint veers slightly off into new territory after the main action, resulting mostly in a five-minute exposition being obnoxiously repeated several times. Set in an outside venue in Spain, the first viewpoint is from inside a news van set up near the location of an anti-terrorist summit, where the President of the United States (William Hurt) is meeting with other heads of state. The second viewpoint is from a psychologically-damaged Secret Service Agent (Dennis Quaid), who is back on the President’s detail for the first time since he took a bullet for him six months prior. He is standing near the president when the POTUS is shot twice. The third viewpoint is from a goofy American tourist (Forest Whitaker), carrying around a video camera, who happens to catch a glimpse what appears to the shooter; Quaid’s secret service agent quickly confiscates the video camera and discovers that there’s a bomb beneath the podium mere seconds before it detonates, killing and maiming a large number of spectators and leaving a cute little girl in the care of Forest Whitaker’s character.

The conceit in director Pete Travis’ Vantage Point is a relatively novel one: The same set of scenes is told from the viewpoint of several different characters, though each viewpoint veers slightly off into new territory after the main action, resulting mostly in a five-minute exposition being obnoxiously repeated several times. Set in an outside venue in Spain, the first viewpoint is from inside a news van set up near the location of an anti-terrorist summit, where the President of the United States (William Hurt) is meeting with other heads of state. The second viewpoint is from a psychologically-damaged Secret Service Agent (Dennis Quaid), who is back on the President’s detail for the first time since he took a bullet for him six months prior. He is standing near the president when the POTUS is shot twice. The third viewpoint is from a goofy American tourist (Forest Whitaker), carrying around a video camera, who happens to catch a glimpse what appears to the shooter; Quaid’s secret service agent quickly confiscates the video camera and discovers that there’s a bomb beneath the podium mere seconds before it detonates, killing and maiming a large number of spectators and leaving a cute little girl in the care of Forest Whitaker’s character. The fourth viewpoint is from the President himself, who actually witnesses the assassination of his body double from a hotel nearby, before a man with a gun barges into his room and shoots everyone in sight.

The conceit in director Pete Travis’ Vantage Point is a relatively novel one: The same set of scenes is told from the viewpoint of several different characters, though each viewpoint veers slightly off into new territory after the main action, resulting mostly in a five-minute exposition being obnoxiously repeated several times. Set in an outside venue in Spain, the first viewpoint is from inside a news van set up near the location of an anti-terrorist summit, where the President of the United States (William Hurt) is meeting with other heads of state. The second viewpoint is from a psychologically-damaged Secret Service Agent (Dennis Quaid), who is back on the President’s detail for the first time since he took a bullet for him six months prior. He is standing near the president when the POTUS is shot twice. The third viewpoint is from a goofy American tourist (Forest Whitaker), carrying around a video camera, who happens to catch a glimpse what appears to the shooter; Quaid’s secret service agent quickly confiscates the video camera and discovers that there’s a bomb beneath the podium mere seconds before it detonates, killing and maiming a large number of spectators and leaving a cute little girl in the care of Forest Whitaker’s character. The fourth viewpoint is from the President himself, who actually witnesses the assassination of his body double from a hotel nearby, before a man with a gun barges into his room and shoots everyone in sight. Finally, the fifth viewpoint is from the mastermind behind the entire terrorist plot, though I won’t deign to ruin it for you, if you’ve managed to stick with the review this far.

Indeed, if you bothered to read as far as this, you have a fair idea of just how painful it is to suffer through Vantage Point, the Groundhog Day of bad action flicks. The biggest fault with Vantage Point, however, is not its poorly executed gimmick, but the needlessness of it. If you walked into the film an hour in and simply sat through the final POV and watched it completely play out, you wouldn’t miss a thing; in fact, you’d have a much better experience (though, much like the experience of reading this review, it’d still annoy the holy living hell out of you). There is nothing you can learn from the first four viewpoints that isn’t revealed again in the fifth. Indeed, the only purpose the gimmickry serves is to create the cinematic equivalent to extremely bad sex that’s nevertheless repeatedly and frustratingly interrupted seconds before climax, forcing you to start all over from scratch. And by the time you finally get to empty your gun, so to speak, you’re so bored with the whole production that your cinematic spasm is more of a relief than a delight, because it finally means you can fall asleep. And that, dear readers, is your cue to do the same.

Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba. He lives with his wife and son in Ithaca, New York. You may email him, or leave a comment below.



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