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Saturday, March 15, 2008

REVIEW - "Vantage Point" (2008)

“Vantage Point” is another one of those movies that most people will either love or hate. The fact I’m on the fence about this movie is probably due to a few things: I waited a long time for it. It has a great cast. And the movie I saw before this was “Strange Wilderness.” (So at this point watching Paris Hilton’s online blog for 10 hours would’ve been more satisfying.) No, I can’t quite call “Vantage Point” a good movie, but it can be somewhat enjoyable if you get past how overly elaborate it is.

“Vantage Point” couldn’t be a more appropriate title. The event of President Ashton’s assassination at a peace rally in Spain is told from the point-of-view of eight different people. A few of these include Secret Service Agent Thomas Barns (Dennis Quaid), a lovable tourist (Forrest Witaker), and a news coverage director (Sigourney Weaver). As a result, the same events are played over and over, but new facts are revealed each time.

As infuriating as it got to see the events rewind every ten to twelve minutes, it was easy enough to get involved with the new character’s point-of-view. Yes something new and surprising was introduced with every character’s “vantage point,” and as fun as it was to be surprised, it was equally as ridiculous to swallow.

Most of the big glaring questions I have about the movie are spoilers, and I try to stay away from those as much as possible. Yet it occurs to me that a lot of the answers in this movie simply bring on more questions. And, unlike an episode of “Lost,” we won’t get any further answers because the movie actually does end. (Although, there are times it feels like it won’t.)

On a more positive note the acting was pretty solid. Dennis Quaid looks great in anything he does. He plays the most interesting character and gets involved with the biggest twist at the end. Matthew Fox, star of “Lost,” does a fantastic job at branching out of his Jack character he’s so use to playing, and Forrest Witaker, I’m convinced, can do just about anything. Is there a role he won’t give 100% to? Witaker’s character was far from realistic, but he made the role lovable enough for audiences to accept. I was certainly convinced.

By the end of the movie we are fed a poorly edited chase scene that came as a relief after seeing the same events get played on screen so many times. During the absurd car chase everything begins to come together and all the different stories come to an end. Cliché? You bet, but the movie has to end somewhere.

Once the melodramatic ending lead in to the credits my roommate turned to me, ever so astutely, and realized, “They just fed us twenty minutes worth of story in an hour and a half of film.” He was right. Each story would end after a bomb exploding at the peace summit and then rewind for the next character. That took roughly anywhere between ten to fifteen minutes, depending on the character. Then the chase scene at the end of the film took around ten minutes. I suppose the biggest thing to get past is believing all of this happened in an amazingly short time span. “Vantage Point” would have probably worked better as a television series.

I can’t recommend “Vantage Point” to a great number of people because it’s just too convoluted, too frustrating and too hard to accept. It can be fun, but it’s as unrealistic as a political movie gets. There was also a lot of wasted talent put in to this production. While it’s certainly watchable, I can’t help but hope for better in Quaid’s and Fox’s future. Best if viewed after “Strange Wilderness.” (Which I absolutely don’t recommend.)

** out of ****

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