Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Vantage Point

 
 

Review by Don Hill

The President of the United Stats is shot down while attending a summit of world leaders in Spain.  The story evolves from there, from the points of view of the Secret Service Agents assigned to him, the news crew covering the event, some of the spectators watching and even of the assassins themselves.

Each “act” of the film is told from the “vantage point” of one of the characters in the event and the clues and action unfold slowly and methodically over the next 90 minutes.  Each different point of view tells a slightly different version of the truth, with each re-telling adding new details that we didn’t know before,  as we filter through the various stories down to the truth of what actually happened.  The story comes across to me as modern hard-boiled; the tale of a crime and the chase to catch the perpetrators by a newly re-deployed agent.

The cast is an ensemble of talent pulled from Hollywood.  There two Secret Service agents on-stage with the President are played by Dennis Quaid and Matthew Fox, and William Hurt plays the President himself.  Forrest Whitaker stars as an American tourist capturing the moment on his camcorder, and Sigourney Weaver, from the news van, plays the producer supervising the cable-news coverage.  All of these characters play a vital role in bringing the action to a head, showing their part of the story from the scope of their own perspective.  As you could surmise from the cast, the acting is all very well done.

he central character is Thomas Barnes (Quaid), a longtime Secret Service agent who is just now returning to protective detail after having been shot in the line of duty.  This story arc becomes important when the President is gunned down on his watch, making him relive the moments that happened just a few months ago and to overcome them as he tries to catch the assassins.

The story unfolds at a good pace.  Action happens as it needs and the investigators put together pieces of the puzzle as they try to solve the crime.  The pacing of the film is very well done, never slowing or rushing headlong too quickly.  There is one chase scene that was a bit much, pulled straight from the Jason Bourne school of action film, but even it did not detract from the mystery genre styling of the movie.

I enjoyed the film quite a bit.  It was just intelligent enough to avoid the description of “action schlock” and although it bordered on gimmicky during the “fast-rewind” between each segment of the story, the movie does the job it intended, a smart action mystery for a new generation.

First-time director Pete Travis has only done TV before and if he keeps to intelligent films like this he could leave that world behind for this new frontier.

A solid 3 / 5 Stars

 

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