A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 354 – Vantage Point

Vantage Point – February 17th, 2011

I’d totally forgotten about this movie. Not that I’d seen it before, but once Andy described it I remembered seeing ads for it and thinking it was a neat idea. The whole concept is a story told over and over from different points of view, each one telling a little more, taking you a little further. And I love seeing stories from other points of view. When I was in fourth grade we read two books: A Dog on Barkham Street and The Bully of Barkham Street, both telling the same story, but from two totally different characters’ perspectives. I’ve been hooked ever since. So the gimmick here tickles me. Yet I never got around to seeing it and I’d been clueless as to what it was whenever I scrolled past it on our list.

The movie starts off with a news van. Sigourney Weaver as the producer, Rex, is calling the shots, ordering cameras around and lackeys in the van to find archive footage or switch views. We meet young reporter Angie, played by Zoe Saldana (seriously we have so many movies with her – it makes me happy) and we learn the set-up for the plot: We’re in Spain. There’s an anti-terrorism conference going on and the US president is about to arrive. The plaza is full of people. The president shows up, a speech is made and then he’s shot. He’s shot and a bomb goes off, and then another and there’s Angie, on the ground until Rex shuts down the feed and we’re spun back twenty-three minutes to follow someone else. This is how the movie works, and I like that it starts in the news van, with the crew spinning the footage back and forth, playing with a variety of views and perspectives, looking at what came before while looking at what’s happening. It’s a sly little metaphor for the whole movie and it sets the stage nicely.

As we follow Dennis Quaid’s Agent Barnes, a secret service agent who protected the president the year before we learn more about what happened out in the plaza. We see moving curtains, shots fired, a man filming it all. We see that he sees something, but we never see what he sees. We go back again and follow Eduardo Noriega as Enrique, a Spanish police officer. From him we get a glimpse of a larger assassination plot than a lone shooter. We get his girlfriend and a stranger and a meeting in an underpass. Go back again and we’re with Forest Whitaker as Howard Lewis, an American tourist who’s been filming everything, catching the odd movements and flapping curtains, a bag tossed under the platform in the plaza, things no one was supposed to notice. Back again and we’re with William Hurt as the president. And again and we get the leader of the terrorists responsible for the whole scheme. And this is where the problems start for me.

By the time we reach the terrorist leader we know a lot about what’s going on. We know where one bomb came from and we know there’s a little twist to the president’s presence. We know Lewis caught some stuff on camera that will help out eventually. We know there’s a little girl lost and foolishly trying to cross a highway. But now that we’ve seen those events from a variety of viewpoints, the movie’s run out of things to show us without going wildly off concept. Instead of building a story that could be unfolded bit by bit within the confines of the gimmick the movie created a story that begins that way and then unravels. We meet the terrorist leader and suddenly it’s not just his POV. It’s the sniper and Barnes and the president and Lewis and the little girl and Enrique and it flips back and forth between them all just like any typical action thriller.

I like the concept. I like the concept a lot. I enjoyed a lot of the ways things were done and switched around. I liked all the different people involved and I liked their performances. I liked the twist during the president’s POV section and where it leads from there. I liked that there was an attempt right from the outset to keep tension going. That there were bits and pieces at the beginning that only get explained much later. But I have some issues with how it’s all put together at the end. There’s some magic tech and the skipping between multiple POVs at once like a typical movie instead of the movie’s conceit. And I had the big twist figured out from the second POV. And as soon as it’s revealed the rest of the movie is just a big car chase to the end we’ve seen several times. Then too, while we know five or six characters very well, thanks to getting their points of view, the rest of the characters are ciphers, all form and no substance or reason to care about them. I wish they’d found a way to keep unfurling the bits and pieces. I wish it had stuck to its concept better and closer. I wish we’d gone out with a note about Angie. Because there’s some cool stuff in there, and some good performances and a not-bad-but-not-revolutionary assassination plot that had a lot of twists and turns to suit the concept. And it just couldn’t quite follow through. It just had to have that Hollywood car chase climax ending and it just doesn’t fit.

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February 17, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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