Movie Review: Vantage Point

Say hello to international violence, assassination and lots of cameras. It’s all about the view you’re given, your vantage point.

Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid) has taken a bullet for the President once. Does he still got what it takes or is he old news? Everyone’s talking about it. What’s the answer? Will we ever find out?

As you can tell, I’m not thrilled about this character and Quaid wasn’t the guy for this role either. Quaid is a guy made for family roles ala The Parent Trap and The Rookie. Quaid smiles, gives us some sentimental sequences and some humor and we enjoy it. What he doesn’t do is scowl, drop cuss words and act overly serious. Want to take a guess which role he’s playing here?

In case you didn’t get the clue, director Pete Travis had Quaid play option two and it’s such a miscast. He takes his job seriously, I’ll give him that, but Quaid is not convincing me here. Too many inorganic lines and not enough fruitful dialogue or time in front of the camera, Quaid probably had as good a chance at pleasing us as anyone else did. Everything he does has Jack Bauer all over it but had they asked Kiefer Sutherland for the role, we’d all feel like we were watching a 24 movie instead of Vantage Point. It’s a role we’ve seen before with an added hitch: there isn’t enough time to complete the act. Even if Quaid had delivered it wouldn’t have been enough because the camera’s viewfinder is always moving to someone or something else. Truthfully, Quaid’s character was the protagonist just as much as anyone else.

The constant reversal of time to show the events from the point of view of others isn’t a bad concept but it does create a disconnect between the audience and its characters. It’s not a bad plot device but it’s detrimental to its set pieces that are left walking in place and uttering the same lines they vocalized ten minutes ago, waiting for when their character might be acknowledged by the camera again. Until then, these actors wait and reread the script again and make sure they play everything the way it was the first time, and the second time, and the third time, etc. We’re gifted with new information each take but not before we have some of the prior information we already know shoved down our throats, when skipping over that information and taking a detour to the new stuff would have kept the story going rather than leaving us with a sputtering engine waiting to re-engage again. It’s tedious. I’ll wait, but I’d like to see some hint or sign that it’s going to pay off in the end and in the precious minutes I’m graced with at the beginning, I received no such confidence from this film. I think Travis just hopes the premise itself will make us wait and it does for a little.

The first viewpoint is like us watching a movie for the first time so there’s nothing wrong with that, although Sigourney Weaver’s in this portion. Ugh. The second part focuses on our protagonist so that’s fine. Then we get this Spanish cop who I guess we’re supposed to care about but I don’t nor does he have any significant interaction with Barnes so it’s just a useless subplot.  The phase only teaches us three things, things that we learn from the next guy we meet anyway so a simple highlight, delete from the script here would have worked quite nicely. Forest Whitaker is the next guy and is probably this film’s most memorable character but he too is a subplot that yet again has little to do with Barnes as a character and the only reason the two interact is because Whitaker decided to bring a videotape to this historic event and get everything relevant on tape. How fortunate, right?

That really is where this film’s viewpoints needed to stop. Whitaker is good here and is helping prop Quaid up, we don’t have the Spanish cop on the screen anymore, let’s just stick with this, okay? However, Travis doesn’t because I think he wants as many speaking characters in this film as he can fit or perhaps he just wanted to be able to put “8 points of view” on the cover. Maybe he thought the number eight would impress us or something, I don’t know but there’s no need for that many when half as many is fine. Further viewpoints only reveal who the bad guys are and end any suspense of trying to figure out who did this and why. Actually, I take back the why part. We never find out why aside from a very short and blase explanation which is incredibly unsatisfactory and unoriginal.

Matthew Fox nearly loses physical form he’s used so little here, which is such a shame, especially if you’ve seen his prowess in the TV series Lost and oh my gosh, how they mistreat the guy here. Like spitting in the guy’s face. If they had given me his script, I would have walked out the door.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog,  I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.

 90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Dawn of the Planet of the ApesTransformers: Age of ExtinctionJack ReacherGodzilla, Secretariat)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Tears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2Young GunsCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(MaleficentRise of the Planet of the ApesTransporter 2Battle: Los AngelesSkyfall)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (The TransporterSpeedGodzilla(1998)The Incredible HulkDisaster Movie)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The Starving GamesYou’re NextThorFull Metal JacketAlien Resurrection)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Billy MadisonA Haunted House300: Rise of an EmpireCowboys and AliensSerendipity)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Planet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice, The Contract)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (X-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe Sum of All Fears)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (Clash of the TitansA Haunted House 2Open GraveAlien 3Dark Fury)

My score for Vantage Point: 57.

Too many twists, subplots and sideshows, Vantage Point allows its vantage point to expand too far and drown its characters in neglect and a poor screenplay. While there is some intrigue still remaining after all that, any chance of this movie ending in the 60’s is destroyed by this film’s thrown together ending that was trying to put a bow on the box but ended up smashing the cake.

*SPOILER ALERT* IF YOU DON’T WANT THE MOVIE SPOILED, STOP READING!!!

*SPOILER’S EDITION*

So there’s this girl and she’s really annoying, young and stupid. She keeps finding her way into this movie anyway. Well, she is told by Forest Whitaker’s character to stay with the security guard at the embassy. Simple enough instructions that this girl can’t follow. She goes running around the city yelling for her mommy. I’m so not emotionally-attached. Well, the terrorists (because cinema…P.S if you didn’t read my Clash of the Titans review you won’t get that) have the president in the back of the ambulance and they’re away and in the clear and this stupid girl walks in the middle of the freeway and stands right in the middle of the lane yelling for mommy. The driver of this ambulance, who keep in mind is a terrorist, has killed people and has kidnapped the President of the United States of America, has a moral epiphany and spins the steering wheel to avoid hitting the girl while at the same type crashing the ambulance, killing his accomplice and losing the president. If you’re a terrorist and have accomplished all that, you’re running that girl over and continuing on, no remorse whatsoever. The fact this film tries to say otherwise is preposterous.

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