Review: Vantage Point

Reminiscent of an episode of 24, complete with narrative gimmickry, Vantage Point comes across as an entertaining television pilot; fast-paced, tightly edited, but ultimately lightweight.

The American President (William Hurt) is on a diplomatic visit to Spain when an assassination attempt throws the events into chaos. The event is witnessed from several different perspectives; a television director (Sigourney Weaver), a tourist (Forrest Whittaker), and a bodyguard (Dennis Quaid) amongst others. At the end of each section, time rewinds and we move on to the next character to see his or her experience. In some cases, we see certain moments in a new light.

The format and structure of the film is actually more interesting than the chronological story itself, which borders on ludicrous. About forty-five minutes into the film we are presented with a ridiculous plot twist which any sane person would never buy. The director of the excellent Irish drama Omagh is surely having a bit of fun here. He’s asking us to relax and have a bit of a laugh. He doesn’t want us to think about how a man can walk from a horrific car crash without even a limp.

The film concludes with a breakneck car chase that takes a leaf out of Bourne’s book; the editing is frantic, but there’s no disguising that the car’s basically hurtling along the same street whilst being filmed from several angles. Sometimes it even looks like the footage has been sped up to make the cars appear to travel faster.

The rewinding effect, complete with gloop-gloop-gloop backward noises, becomes a little irritating after a while. But the experience of watching these narratives pieced together from each character is nonetheless quite a fun process.

Vantage Point is a tightly edited film with a reasonably brief running time. And while it is basically just an extended gimmick with a silly story, you could do a lot worse for some light weekend entertainment.