Vantage Point is an average thriller built on a neat gimmick. The idea is this: We see US president William Hurt assassinated at a Spanish summit. In fact, we see it happen eight times, from different eight points of view. So, we get Sigourney Weaver's TV news producer trying to cover the story, Dennis Quaid's secret service man searching for the shooter, Forest Whittaker's tourist filming the whole thing on his camcorder, and so on. Gradually, these frayed threads cohere into an extremely implausible whodunit.
The nominal hero is Quaid, who shoulders his way through the film with an expression that suggests he's trying to pass a kidney stone. But since Vantage Point keeps going over the same 23 minutes with a new character each time, it's hard to feel much sympathy for anyone. The terrorists, who have somehow arranged the whole assassination on their personal organisers, are mere foreign-looking ciphers - we're never told the purpose of their plot.
" A DOOZY OF A CAR CHASE"
Vantage Point feels more like a screenwriting exercise than a living, breathing movie. The stories are cleverly interwoven, with a couple of unexpected twists, and the patient viewer is rewarded with a doozy of a car chase in the last reel. But there's no real sense of why we are being told this story in this style - the various viewpoints don't illuminate each other so much as push the story onward by a few minutes each time. Thus, the action has a three-steps-forward-two-steps-back feel that eventually becomes rather annoying.
Vantage Point is out in the UK on 7th March 2008.