Review: Too many views give an unclear ‘Vantage Point’

For those suffering through the strike-prolonged hiatus of “24,” which will keep Jack Bauer inactive until early 2009, you could do worse than “Vantage Point,” which depicts the attempted assassination of an American president from the perspectives of five startled onlookers and a labyrinthine network of terrorists. Of course, you could also do a lot better.

Taking a cue from Kurosawa, whose “Rashomon” recreated a murder from the dubious (and often contradictory) accounts of four who were present, “Vantage Point” teases us with the recollections of eyewitnesses who see but fail to understand.

Gathered in Salamanca, Spain, for a counterterrorism summit, they include a world-weary news executive (Sigourney Weaver), barking orders at subordinates even as they are engulfed in the chaos of the moment; an American tourist (Forest Whitaker) who captures every relevant clue with his high-definition camera; and an earnest president (William Hurt) who suggests, ever hopefully, that “we have to do better.”

Then there’s Dennis Quaid, as a once-bitten Secret Service agent shaken by a prior assassination attempt. As the movie’s all-American hero, he is not so much a man as an indestructible force. He survives a bomb scare and two high-speed collisions, all in a matter of minutes, and still manages to sprint his way to a “High Noon”-style showdown with his erstwhile partner.

Those inclined to scrutinize the logic of Barry Levy’s screenplay are likely to come away as baffled by its farfetched twists as amused by its bombastic excesses. Quite simply, there’s too much going on. Director Pete Travis, whose quick-cut camera-work lends a frenetic feel to the proceedings, keeps the action lean and focused early on, but “Vantage Point” barrels off the tracks during its overwrought finale. By the time we find Whitaker racing through the city in a frantic bid to save an endangered child (who has the suspect look of a plot device), our patience is spent.

Credits

Vantage Point

(2 stars)

Starring Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Bruce McGill, Edgar Ramirez, William Hurt

Written by Barry Levy

Directed by Pete Travis

Rated PG-13

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

artsentertainmentOther Arts

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Advocates call for permanent moratorium on ‘poverty tows’

Ron Trathen hates change. He recalls moving around a lot as a… Continue reading

Music venue owners warn ‘hospitality and entertainment are dying’

Industry leaders plead with city, state for help

Anti-police protester sues over arrest at 2019 Pride Parade

A protester whose arrest at San Francisco’s 2019 Pride Parade intensified pressure… Continue reading

Veritas offers to forgive unpaid rent, but tenants are wary

Calls for rent forgiveness have been answered, but with some caveats. The… Continue reading

Most Read