….. and it can be summed up in just one word – CORNY!
When Fat Dragon & I watched ‘Vantage Point’ last Sunday, it felt very much like ‘Ground Hog Day‘ – ‘The Kingdom’ – ‘The Bourne’ trilogy all meshed into one. Fat Dragon aptly described it as a ‘CORNY’ movie.
First things first, the storyline:
“The President of the United States (President Ashton – William Hurt) is in Salamanca, Spain attending a breakthrough summit on global terrorism. Among the Secret Service detail protecting him are agents Kent Taylor (Matthew Fox) and Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid). Special attention is paid to the character Barnes – who took a bullet a year ago defending the President from an assassin and then suffered a nervous breakdown. Taylor, his Secret Service colleague is convinced he’s now ready for duty. There is dramatic tension as you wonder if the character is able to withstand the pressures of protecting the President during this assignment.
A large crowd is gathered at the Spanish plaza waiting for speeches from the dignitaries. An American tourist, Howard Lewis (Forest Whitaker), is amongst the crowd. He is recording everything going on around him with his camcorder. In the media truck, American TV news producer Rex Brooks (Sigourney Weaver) is capturing the event with many different cameras trained on the crowd and the President.
Chaos ensues when President Ashton is shot just as he steps in front of the podium to give a speech at the Plaza Mayor. ….and a hunt for the assassin commences.”
The audience is required to piece 8 different perpectives together, as seen through the eyes of 8 different witnesses, on the same chain of events, before the storyline unfolds itself. When the President is felled by bullets, we think we know what has happened but the filmmakers show us that we haven’t got a clue to the real situation until many different characters reveal their part in the drama.
To do this, the director took us back to a clock ticking at the exact moment of 11: 55 am leading to 12pm each time over and over again (6 times to be exact) to introduce the different perspectives….hence the Ground Hog-esque feel. Each scene presents a different piece to fit into the puzzle. Once a serious or revealing moment is hit, the film stops & brings us back to 11:55 am….I’m sure the directors thought that this style of filming was supposed to pull a notch up on the element of suspence but instead it elicited …umm….some grunts, some sighs & some laughs even, from the audience when we were watching. Not exactly the desired effect that the directors had in mind I’m sure…..
The terrorism theme, the decoy bombing which leads up to a 2nd bombing & the use of emergency vehicles in the execution of terrorism acts were all reminiscent of scenes from The Kingdom. So, even though the bombing scenes had us going for a while but …..‘hey, that seems familiar….’ keeps popping up at the back of our minds…..
The mandatory car chase (This, of course, is the Bourne-esque bit) at the end gave us the adrenalin fix that we desperately needed to neutralise the corny taste in our mouths by the 3rd quarter of the movie….. It succeeded in making us sit up straight in our seats alright… with close shots of cars speeding through narrow streets ….. MAN it even makes you WANT to own one of those cute European compacts that can obviously be revved up to the max… but credibility was an issue. Apparently, there are just not that many streets in Salamanca (Pop. 160,000) which is a University Town in Spain to support such a lengthy & spiced up car chase. How about that????
The plot was filled with holes. In the first place, I do not think that Secret Service would ever allow the President to appear in a public square (Plaza Mayor) which is surrounded by buildings with windows. This would be a security nightmare. Secondly, I don’t know much about security protocol but common logic would call for bags to be scanned no matter who it belongs to when you enter an area hosting events involving Heads of States? It does not make sense how a female security official guarding the entrance would switch off the security bracket, allowing for the character Enrique to slip a bag containing a bomb through…..Yeah Yeah, we know he claimed to be Mayor’s police & that he was armed…. but he’s not supposed to be armed with a bomb, right? What a lame excuse to pave the way for a bomb scene indeed!
Another point of contention for the movie is that Secret Service Agent Barnes was way too superhero to be true. He was truly invincible.
He survived a podium explosion where he was at ground zero position…(which puts him about 10 – 20 feet of the bomb).
He survived an accident which involved a TRUCK – (a 14 wheeler maybe- the size of which I might be exaggerating but who cares, it’s all in line with the spirit of the movie). Now the truck rammed into the passenger side of his car at high speed, pushing his car straight into a wall, leaving his car wrecked between the wall and the truck. He not only came out of this crash alive, he also came out of it without any broken bones ….. huh??????? Move aside John McClane (Die Hard), make way for Super Hero Agent Barnes…..!!!!!
Unbelievable though this movie may be, copycat though it may be….the movie does have entertainment value. Given the dearth of good action movies during this period, beggars cannot be choosers…(At least the movie is less ‘brain dead’ than ‘Jumper’ starring Hayden Christensen & Samuel L. Jackson which is showing concurrently with Vantage Point at the local cinema circuit).
The last 15 mins of the movie is action packed with a heart pumping car chase and that will surely thrill you to be bone…umm…CORNY though it may be. That explains why it scored better with movie goers (B- Rating: Yahoo movies) than with critics (C Rating)…..well, only slightly better.
Enjoy your week at the movies…..