Movie #23: Vantage Point

What if 24 took place not over 24 hours, but 24 minutes? And what if instead of a single viewpoint at a time, we got multiple perspectives on the same event. That’s the central premise behind Vantage Point. When the President of the United States (a.k.a. the POTUS) is shot by a sniper’s bullet during a public appearance in Spain, all hell breaks loose as government agents, news reporters, innocent bystanders, and not-so-innocent bad guys fall over each other to get a handle on the situation. After the shots ring out and the bombs go off, the clock is rewound and the events replay from the vantage point of another character. In this movie, Dennis Quaid approximates the Jack Bauer role as a veteran Secret Service agent who chases (and tackles) the suspects. Matthew Fox plays the younger officer who helps the old-timer out. William Hurt plays the president himself. I loved the multiple-perspectives concept, the action was great (including a thrilling car chase through the streets of Salamanca, Spain), and I even liked the fact that they used Spanish dialogue for several scenes. Unfortunately, there were a few elements that took this movie down a few notches: Quaid’s expression was one big nonstop frown; one of the twists (while cool) seemed really contrived; a few things seemed unrealistic (e.g. how free the Secret Service were about shooting into a crowded street); how some of the characters switched from Spanish to English, even with each other, once the movie was reaching its climax; and a heart tugging/clenching scene that would make even master-manipulator Paul Haggis grimace. (Plus, the gratuitous use of the term “POTUS” drove me absolutely crazy. If I never hear that term again it’ll be too soon.) Without the 24 hours it takes for a season of 24, we just don’t make the same connections with the side characters that we need to either. Vantage Point gets a gold medal for effort, but only a silver for execution. (4 out of 5)

23 down, 27 to go!

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