VANTAGE POINT

PG_13, 90 min, 2008

Director: Pete Travis
Writer: Barry Levy
Stars: Dennis Quaid, Forest Whitaker, Matthew Fox

Vantage Point is a thriller that plays with the notion of perspective – what one person sees from their point of view might be quite different from how someone else sees the same event.

The President of the United States (William Hurt) arrives in Spain to give a speech as part of a summit on the Global War on Terror. Accompanying him are Secret Service agents Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid), fresh from being shot previously in another attempt on the President’s life, now going through a certain amount of Post Traumatic Shock, and his young colleague Kent Taylor (Matthew Fox of TV’s Lost).

The event is being covered by GNN, produced from a trailer by the bitchy Rex Brooks (Sigourney Weaver), whose parents apparently didn’t plan on a daughter. Meanwhile, tourist Howard Lewis (Forrest Whitaker) is separated from his wife and kids and has come to hear the President speak first hand, documenting it with a hand-held video camera. How these perspectives intertwine and the picture their mosaic creates I will leave for you to discover.

The film is the feature directing debut of TV vet Pete Travis (The Jury, Omagh); it is stylistically assured and very fast-paced. The screenplay is by first-timer Barry L. Levy, and is made of shorthand, shop-talk, yelling and occasional (PG-13-style) expletives. If the premise might remind you a bit of Brian DePalma’s Snake Eyes (1998) with Nicolas Cage, I think that could be forgiven – though this lacks the seductive style, over-the-top histrionic acting, and obviousness in its plot.

In the trailers, an apparent twist is given away – though it isn’t as big a twist as you think. Conversely, there’s a genuine “twist” I saw coming almost a mile away that isn’t even hinted at in the trailers. Ultimately, the results are fun and intense, and worth the time (a mere 90 minutes!) if you think it’s something you’d enjoy.

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