Sony // 2008 // 90 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 10th, 2008
Eight strangers. Eight points of view. One truth.
A unique twist on the action thriller -- can Vantage Point outperform its gimmick?
The President of the United States (William Hurt) is in Spain to seal a groundbreaking, international anti-terror act with fellow global luminaries. It's a zoo, with protestors cramming the streets, the media in full swarm and the Secret Service scrambling to repel threats again the President's life, led by an emotionally fragile agent (Dennis Quaid, In Good Company) and his fellow agent (Matthew Fox, Lost) and...some unsavory characters plotting to launch an unprecedented terrorist attack.
The action unfolds in the span of about an hour or so, but the events are rewound and then re-launched through a different perspective -- eight different perspectives -- until the whole shebang is eventually shaken out and some big plot twists are revealed and there's a nifty car chase and Dennis Quaid perfects the art of screaming desperately into a cell phone.
On paper, I can see where the plot description can sound tedious. Really, the same sequence eight different times? And, having known the tactic before going into the film, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't bit hesitant myself about the potential entertainment value. But it wasn't long into the runtime that I knew I was in store for heaps o' fun. And that's what Vantage Point provided: a damn good time.
Granted there's not much re-watch value once the film reveals all of its secrets, but during the maiden voyage I daresay thriller fans will find much to enjoy. Seriously, this thing jets forth with a turbo force. And even though you might know the disasters that loom, the film is set up so that successive viewpoints add a little extra to the story, pushing past where the last perspective left off. There's always something new coming and the mystery behind the perpetrators is handled deftly enough to build anticipation for these added clues.
The cast is top-shelf: Dennis Quaid is his usual gruff, dependable self; Matthew Fox plays a fine counterpart; Sigourney Weaver, in a relatively small but important role as a cable news director, sets the tension right off the bat; Forest Whitaker makes running down the street with a camcorder interesting; and William Hurt is, um, presidential. The villains are great (you'll know them when you see them) and bring the apparently invulnerable menace.
And speaking about villains, major props to writer Barry Levy and director Pete Travis for concocting a scheme that isn't hatched by a) an evil corporation, b) a rogue branch of the Marines or the FBI or CIA or NSA or NASA or whatever government agency Hollywood has a boner to crucify, c) a neo-Nazi extremist group or d) a Christian Fundamentalist ring. Without giving too much away, let me just say you can take solace in the fact that the bastards behind the mayhem that goes down are actual, you know, terrorists.
Sony's DVD release is solid. The 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen looks great, and the Spain setting offers a multitude of colors to enjoy. The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix is aggressive and there is plenty for it to do. Extras: a commentary from Pete Travis, featurettes with the cast and crew, the film's stunts and choreographing the assassination sequence and outtakes.
In the vaguest of terms -- having executed such wanton death and devastation, what's with that last-minute, mission-endangering driving decision?
Vantage Point thrills. From start to finish. Give it a look.
Review content copyright © 2008 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Thai)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Director's Commentary
* Official Site
* DVD Verdict Review - Vantage Point (Blu-ray)