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"Vantage Point"

Directed by Pete Travis.
Written by Barry Levy.
Starring Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker and William Hurt.
Release Year:  2008
Review Date:  2/26/08


During my recent visit to the ATL, I took my two favorite women--my mom and my fiancée, Meg--to catch a daytime showing of the new thriller "Vantage Point."  We had tried to see this for free last week in DC, but it was crushed with peeps hoping to skip out on paying $10 so we had to wait to see it with Joe Schmoe.

And, even though the film's premise is interesting and it initially builds steam through a strong intro, "Vantage Point" collapses on itself because it tries to give us six or seven different retellings of the same 20-minute period.  That period includes a speech by the President of the United States (William Hurt), interrupted by his death on a public stage in a courtyard in Spain.  We get the viewpoints of two Secret Service officers (Dennis Quaid and Matthew Fox), a news team (led by Sigourney Weaver), a group of terrorists (led by Saïd Taghmaoui), a tourist (Forest Whitaker) and a freakin' little girl who loves ice cream (Alicia Zapien).  Naturally, something is wrong here, and it's up to these different vantage points to eventually tell us who's on the take.

I don't like to play these guessing games while a film is running, but even I had to admit that by roughly the ten-minute mark, you know who that shady-someone is.  And, coupled with constant sighs from Meg each time the film rewinds to give us another vantage point during the same 20-minute stretch, "Vantage Point" gets tiring fast, and it is only occasionally that an action scene or a little laugh keeps hope alive.  The performances by Whitaker and Edgar Ramirez as a former Special Forces soldier are surprisingly good, given that Hurt, Fox, Quaid and the rest of this cast looks like they know this puppy is a dog.  (Figuratively speaking, that is.)  I still can't figure out how this premise could go so badly; this feels like a lower-budget version of any episode of "24", with stronger actors not working as hard as they have in other films.

Even the end car chase sequence brought more laughs from my threesome than cheers; that's probably because one of our characters is able to continuously dodge all manner of close calls in trying to nab terrorists in a foreign country where the driver can't possibly know this many backroads.  Or the super sat-phone that is able to control all manner of dastardly deeds (my cell just has call waiting and "speakerphone"; in "Vantage Point", they can essentially fly 747s from the touch screen).  Or the set of coincidences that allow the bad guys to go down...ugh.  It's a sad exercise, but at least one that is over relatively fast at 90 minutes flat.  And, it certainly appears that there's no chance for a sequel!!

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09