Vantage Point Review – An action thriller without substance

Assassination Attempt, Explosions, Gun Shots, Terrorism, Kidnapping, Suicide Bomber, Car Crashes.

Though Vantage Point is an entertaining watch, it lacked the cohesion and strong narrative to make it a great film. Through their distinct vantage points of the characters, we are told the story in parts, but it fails to utilize that mechanic effectively.

Vantage Point follows the US President Ashton, who is in Spain for a summit where an international treaty that deals with the fight against terrorism that was heavily promoted by him, will be signed by all the leaders. The president is set to make a speech which the news station, GNN is covering. As soon as the president takes stage, he is shot by a sniper. Moments later, two explosions cause confusion and hysteria in the plaza. Thomas Barnes, a Secret Service agent, busts into the news station to find out what happened. It is from this point onwards, we delve into the different vantage points of characters from the new station, crowd and Secret Service.

We do not get much in terms of backstory of the characters in Vantage Point. Except for the main character, a Secret Service agent (played by Dennis Quaid) who is not ready to be back in protection duty, but it is brief and not that engaging. Plus the acting seems very stilted and wooden at times, making the vantage point flashbacks not flow as consistently as they should. I have never been a fan of Matthew Fox, truth be told, but I found his performance particularly lacking in quality.

Also, I am not really sure why the terrorists and their acquaintances make the decisions they do. None of it is really explained, and this I find to be its downfall. I wanted to know what the bigger picture was, but it seemed like no one had really given it any thought or perhaps did not know why. There was no reason given for why the terrorists were their criminal acts, unless I am meant to just conclude everyone hates America. Maybe that was alright back in 2008 when it was released, but unfortunately, I feel audiences expect more these days.

As well as that, I found that the viewpoints don’t match up. Whether that is meant to be inconsistencies by characters or inconsistencies by the film’s writers – it’s hard to be sure, but I’m leaning on the latter. As well as that, certain storylines of characters such as Howard, seem mostly pointless after the first telling. I am not sure why he is there, or really what his character added to the film. Which is a shame to waste all that potential that Forest Whitaker could have brought to the film.

With the 6 viewpoints presented in this movie, I found myself getting tired of seeing a lot of the same material over and over again. Rather than intriguing me with new questions and answers, I found it was repetitive and boring. Perhaps this film would have been more interesting if they had chosen to use a more traditional story-telling device.

The final twist, as there always has to be a twist, is rather confusing as well. Again, there is lack of an explanation to the character’s motivations, that just leaves the audience in confusion. But I guess this is why it had to move at such a fast pace with lots of action and thrills to make up for it. But I will say the last car chase pursuing the villain, was the better part of Vantage Point. It is just a shame we had to wait so long for something worthwhile.

If you are looking for an intelligent thriller, Vantage Point may not be the film for you. It is entertaining but nothing about the plot – apart from the way it is structured – adds anything refreshing to see.

Watch for the action, not the plot – there are many chases and explosions to be had.

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