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Pete Travis
Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt, Bruce McGill, Edgar Ramirez, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ayelet Zurer, Zoe Saldana
Writing Credits:
Barry Levy

8 Strangers. 8 Points of View. 1 Truth.

During a historic counter-terrorism summit in Spain, the President of the United States is struck down by an assassin's bullet. Eight strangers have a perfect view of the kill, but what did they really see? As the minutes leading up to the fatal shot are replayed through the eyes of each eyewitness, the reality of the assassination takes shape. But just when you think you know the answer, the shattering final truth is revealed. Vantage Point is a mindbending political action-thriller starring Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Academy Award Winner Forest Whitaker (Best Actor 2006, The Last King of Scotland), with Sigourney Weaver and Academy Award winner William Hurt (Best Actor 1985, Kiss of the Spider Woman).

Box Office:
$40 million.
Opening Weekend
$22.874 million on 3149 screens.
Domestic Gross
$72.266 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 2.40:1/16X9
Fullscreen 1.33:1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Surround 2.0
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 90 min.
Price: $34.95
Release Date: 7/1/2008

DVD One:
• Audio Commentary with Director Pete Travis
• “Surveillance Tapes”
• Previews
DVD Two:
• “An Inside Perspective” Featurette
• “Plotting an Assassination” Featurette
• “Coordinating Chaos” Featurette
• Bonus Digital Copy


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Vantage Point: Special Edition (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 14, 2008)

A modest surprise hit, 2008’s Vantage Point takes us to Spain. US President Henry Ashton (William Hurt) leads an international summit against terrorism. However, violence mars the event. Someone shoots the President, and then a bomb lays waste to the area.

From there the movie leaps back about 23 minutes – repeatedly. It displays the events of that time period from a mix of perspectives. We see through the eyes of Ashton, Secret Service Agent Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid), Spanish cop Enrique Contreras (Eduardo Noriega), American tourist Howard Lewis (Forest Whitaker), and others. All of these expose a variety of mysteries and intriguing threads that eventually lead us to the full picture of what occurred.

Those of us in the movie criticism biz just love to throw around terms like “the Rashomon structure”. That’s when the same story is told from different viewpoints, and the film explores the various thoughts. The theme has been done to death over the years, but it continues to provide a fun way to tell a tale.

You only need to see the film’s trailer to know that Vantage Point turns into the 8293rd use of “the Rashomon structure”, so the question becomes whether or not it uses it well. The answer? Ehhh. The flick manages to keep the viewer’s interest, but it doesn’t do so with any particular style.

I don’t mean that Point is a staid, stale movie; it uses the usual action filmmaking techniques, so it shows some verve. However, since these are the “usual” methods, there’s nothing about the flick to make it stand out from the crowd in terms of visuals. It feels like a conglomeration of all the standard genre conventions melded together without much thought or inventiveness.

The whole “multiple flashback” approach works less well than I’d expect. As presented in ads, this method makes the movie look intriguing, but the end result provides surprisingly unstimulating. Again, there’s enough to maintain interest, but not with much enthusiasm. As I watched the film, I found myself a little bored, even though the relentless pacing and the persistent attack of twists and revelations should’ve made matters fascinating.

Maybe Point relies too much on those twists and revelations. At times, the movie comes across as nothing more than an endless series of those moments, so it fails to deliver much in the way of tight narrative or characterizations. The surprises take the place of real storytelling and tend to grow old before long.

At times I get the impression that the whole Rashomon deal is a gimmick meant to embellish an otherwise lackluster plot, but additional consideration shows that not to be the case. With all those funky shifts, Point should be something more intriguing than it is, but the problem remains the excessive number of twists. These would’ve bogged down a more straightforward narrative, but the multiple flashback method makes the story moves more distracting and over the top. It’s like a greatest hits reel of revelations packed into one short film.

At least Point boasts a good cast. Indeed, we get two Oscar winners (Whitaker and Hurt) along with a multiple nominee (Sigourney Weaver) and other talents like Quaid. They don’t get much to do here other than run around (in Quaid’s case) and look shocked. This isn’t exactly a character-based flick; the actors often feel like nothing more than puppets manipulated in the interest of all the story goofiness.

And that leaves Vantage Point as a disappointment. Had the film relied on a more concise narrative and stuck with only two or three plot twists, it might’ve been something stimulating. As it stands, the flick suffers from so many attempts to manipulate the viewer and throw shocks at us that it degenerates into an overwrought mess.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus C+

Vantage Point appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 and in a fullscreen version on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. Across the board, the movie boasted a fine transfer.

Virtually no issues with sharpness materialized. Only a smidgen of softness ever appeared, as the majority of the flick looked concise and accurate. No signs of jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge enhancement. In addition, source flaws were absent from this clean presentation.

Colors tended to be a bit amber or gold tinted. Those tones dominated the film in a quiet manner but the hues still came across as warm and full through the film. Blacks were also deep and firm, and shadows looked smooth and clear. This image consistently impressed.

As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Vantage Point, it also was fine for the movie. The soundfield made good use of various effects. Of course, given the nature of the story, these tended to be the same effects over and over again; we got many repetitions of the gunfire and the explosion. Nonetheless, these elements opened up the mix well, and the track used music in an active, satisfying manner as well. Throw in a few car chases and the soundscape worked nicely.

Audio quality always seemed solid. Music was full and rich, with clear highs and tight lows. Effects sounded accurate and dynamic as well, and speech was good. Dialogue came across as natural and concise. All of this was enough for a “B+”.

A mix of extras fills out this two-disc “Deluxe Edition”. On DVD One, we open with an audio commentary from director Pete Travis. He provides a running, screen-specific chat that looks at visual choices and camerawork, cast and performances, story issues and editing, sets and locations, effects and audio, and a few other production areas.

From start to finish, Travis provides a bland commentary. While he touches on a mix of useful topics, he also tends to simply narrate the movie. Even when he engages in good material, the track feels slow and flat. We learn a reasonable amount of info, but the commentary never really becomes involving.

A quick clip called Surveillance Tapes lasts a mere 42 seconds. It’s a gag deleted scene that features director Travis himself.

A few ads open DVD One. We get clips for Hancock, 21, and Prom Night. These also appear in the Previews area along with promos for The House Bunny, Lakeview Terrace, The Other Boleyn Girl, Damages, Persepolis, The Shield, Rescue Me and Blu-Ray Disc. No trailer for Vantage Point appears anywhere in the set.

Over on DVD Two, we find three featurettes. An Inside Perspective goes for 26 minutes, 43 seconds as it provides remarks from Travis, executive producer Callum Greene, screenwriter Barry L. Levy, editor Stuart Baird, composer Atli Orvarsson, and actors Matthew Fox, Dennis Quaid, Sigourney Weaver, Edgar Ramirez, Eduardo Noriega, Forest Whitaker, William Hurt, and Ayelet Zurer. The show covers the story and its path to the screen, what Travis brought to the project, cast, characters and performances, sets and locations, editing, cinematography and story challenges, music, and general thoughts about the project.

With a length of nearly half an hour, I hoped for some decent substance from “Perspective”. While a mix of good details do emerge, overall the program proves less than satisfying. It just comes with too much promotional puffery to be more than an occasionally useful show.

By the way, don’t watch “Perspective” if you’ve not already seen Vantage Point, as it includes quite a few potential spoilers.

Plotting an Assassination runs 15 minutes, 59 seconds and features Travis, Noriega, Ramirez, Quaid, Greene, Levy, Weaver, Fox, Whitaker, and Murer. The piece examines aspects of the script, the story, and the characters. Levy throws out some interesting notes about inspirations and challenges, but unfortunately, “Plotting” usually comes across as a basic movie recap. We just don’t learn a ton about the flick.

Finally, Coordinating Chaos lasts seven minutes, 27 seconds and includes statements from Travis, Greene, stunt coordinator Spiro Razatos, and producer Neal H. Moritz. “Chaos” looks at the movie’s stunts and action scenes. It doesn’t go into detail, but it offers a decent overview of these issues.

DVD Two also includes a Digital Copy of Vantage Point. This lets you transfer the flick to your computer, iPhone, iPod or other modern gizmo the youngsters love. I’ll never use it, but it’s there if you want it.

I wanted to like Vantage Point, but the film’s excessive reliance on plot twists and gimmicks renders it impotent. The movie blows its potential and ends up as a barely coherent collection of flashbacks that bores more than it excites. The DVD boasts very good picture and audio as well as some average extras. I’d like to recommend Point but can’t find enough substance in it to do so.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.2666 Stars Number of Votes: 15
3 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main