When Vantage Point premiered in theaters, I was totally psyched. Its trailer looked awesome and its cast was incredible: William Hurt, Forest Whitaker, Dennis Quaid, Sigourney Weaver and my man Matthew Fox from Lost, to boot. However, I wasn’t able to see it on its opening weekend, and then read several mixed and negative reviews. A few of my friends saw it, and they confirmed the bad news. Vantage Point was disappointing—some people I knew outright hated it. Needless to say, I never saw it in the theater.
You can therefore understand why I had extremely low expectations for the movie when I fired up its DVD last night. But then I sat transfixed, watching absolute chaos unfold on the screen for about twenty-three minutes. It was one of the most intense openings of a film I’ve seen in a while. And then… the rest of the movie fell apart. But I’ll always have those awesome twenty-three minutes, right?
Vantage Point shows—over and over—the same twenty-three minutes from different characters’ perspectives. The event that the action revolves around is an assassination attempt on the President of the United States as he is speaking at a peace summit in Spain. As new points-of-view are introduced, the “whodunit?” mystery slowly unravels.
The problem is that the replay of those critical twenty-three minutes gets really old, really quickly. While I think that the concept of piecing a story together through different characters’ viewpoints is brilliant and has succeeded in various forms ever since Rashomon, Vantage Point just couldn’t pull it off. When we finally learn how and why someone was able to shoot the President, it’s a pretty ridiculous explanation. If the powers that be behind this movie had focused on writing a better story rather than shooting cool action scenes and banking on the fact that the concept alone would carry the film, Vantage Point would’ve been so, so much better.
If you’ve enjoyed out-of-the-ordinary mysteries like Flightplan or Déjà Vu, you may very well like Vantage Point. Just remember that after you’re wowed by the opening scene, it’s going to get a tad repetitive and unbelievable. If you can deal with that, then go for it!