Directed by: Pete Travis
Premise: An assassination attempt on the President of the United States is told from the points of view of several different characters, including a veteran secret service agent (Dennis Quaid), an American tourist (Forest Whitaker), and a television news director (Sigourney Weaver).
What Works: Vantage Point is a very effective thriller. The film raises what might otherwise be a glorified episode of 24 into something more complex and more textured by splitting its narrative, taking the action in each character’s story up to the climax, and then restarting at the opening. The juxtaposition of the stories is extremely well done, with each new incarnation of the event leading to new knowledge about the previous version and building toward a cohesive whole. At the same time, each story moves along progressively faster, using smart editing techniques and the audience’s pre-knowledge of what is going to happen to streamline the storytelling. As the film enters into its final story, it gives the assassins and their plot more intelligence and sophistication than is expected and features a terrific car chase on par with those seen in The French Connection and The Bourne Identity. Although Vantage Point is not Munich, it does manage to include a little bit of depth in its characters and themes, and give a few opportunities for the film to expand beyond just a slam-bang action adventure.
What Doesn’t: The split narrative gets a little frustrating because it repeatedly takes the action to the climax and then returns to the beginning to track some other character’s point of view.
Bottom Line: Vantage Point is on par with last year’s The Kingdom. It’s not a film about deep observations on terrorism or West-Middle East relations, but it does make for a compelling ninety minutes of action.
Episode: #184 (March 30, 2008)