Thursday, 21 February 2008
Barry Levy's script for Vantage Point sold for a lot of money, and it's easy to see why. On the page, this Presidential assassination thriller with a gimmicky pseudo-Rashomon structure probably read like gangbusters. Onscreen, however, the film, directed by Pete Travis, is something of a disappointment. Set during the visit of the American President (William Hurt) to Salamanca, Spain, for an anti-terrorism conflab, the film posits several different viewpoints of his (or rather his double's) assassination — including tourist Forest Whitaker, Secret Service agents Matthew Fox and Dennis Quaid, and local cop Eduardo Noriega — and the subsequent hunt for the assassins. After the initial set up, the film rewinds 23 minutes to show us another person's POV, slowly revealing "vital" pieces of information as to the killers' identities and motives. But after the third or fourth rewind you find yourself shuffling in your seat — like most of the audience I saw it with — caught up in a cinematic version of Groundhog Day, willing it to end. There are several surprises en route, although the Presidential double is revealed in the trailer, while the goodie who's really a baddie is obvious from the get-go. Towards the end the film gives up its subjective viewpoint for a denoument, including a high octane car chase through the Salamanca streets, that's seems to be many people's POV and feels like a bit of a cheat. Travis is a Paul Greengrass protege, having directed the Greengrass-produced/co-scripted Omagh, but he lacks his mentor's eye for action and ability to propel you (the audience) into the maelstrom of realistic chaos. The last shot, too, features one of the worst pieces of CGI (a helicopter and landscape composite) I've seen in a studio movie.