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Vantage Point
UKScreen Rating:

Vantage Point – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

As America’s President Ashton (Hurt) steps onto a stage at an open-air anti-terrorism conference in a picture-postcard Spanish plaza, he’s gunned down.
Too late, the secret service agents pounce on their wounded leader, while the local police try to maintain calm in the square.
Where did the shots come from? Who fired them? Is anyone running away? Where were the holes in the security?
These questions, asked by the authorities and the audience alike, are answered as we see the same quarter of an hour played back again and again from the different points of view – vantage points, if you will – of all those involved: including the secret service agents at the president’s side (Quaid and Fox), a tourist (Whitaker) watching events through his video camera, an American TV news crew on site (including Weaver and Saldana) and the gang members, among others.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

It’s clear from the outset what you’re going to get – a Rashamon-style study of the same set of events, each vantage point uncovering different facts which put a fresh perspective on who’s actually doing what and why.
The most important thing to get right in this kind of film – since the general structure is now growing well-worn – is that with each point of view must come interest and excitement, while maintaining credibility. As the film progresses, the director’s success wains.
Pete Travis’ device for guiding the audience through – rewinding what you’ve just seen and giving you a countdown to the next version of events – is neat enough.
The first few tellings of the story cleverly unfold a web of intrigue and deception, laying the groundwork for what – in the 1970s – might have been a twisted political thriller of the highest order, but in the noughties, when what producers think we want is as many crashes and bangs as possible, the film regrettably degenerates into a contrived, unbelievable mess.
The big twists, when they come, just make no sense, as there’s too little explanation about why characters are making the decisions they make.
The longer the clock ticks on – and the more vantage points we share – the more we just don’t care who’s doing what or why. The complexity is ratcheted up, but the earlier intrigue and adrenaline just drain away.
After a promising start, the film becomes little more than an exercise in how many twists, turns, tricks, stunts and effects can be squeezed into a paper-thin plot.

opens nationwide 7th March 2008

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