Vantage Point is a film with a fascinating premise, a unique style, and plenty of thrills. Actually, I should rephrase that. The first HALF of Vantage point is a film with a fascinating premise, a unique style, and plenty of thrills. After that, the seams begin to show and the entire movie becomes silly, cliched, and downright boring - despite some very nice explosions, car chases and gunfights.
As the film opens, we learn that the President of the United States (William Hurt) is visiting Salamanca, Spain, where he and some other world leaders are about to publicly sign a counter-terrorism treaty in a town square in front of a huge crowd. Unfortunately for the President, this happens to be the day a group of terrorists decide to assassinate him. The President is attacked, and two large explosions follow. The rest of the film is spent literally rewinding back to the same events over and over, but from different viewpoints of the witnesses.
The problem with this movie is that it begins so promisingly and, like so many other lame mystery/thriller films, piles on the stupid twists and inane, out-of-place action sequences to try to keep the audience's attention instead of just telling a decent fucking story. The beginning part of this movie called to mind the great Oliver Stone film JFK, with it's dissection of a Presidential assassination, it's cast of characters who may or may not be involved in the crime, and it's offering of different viewpoints of the events. But about 40 minutes in, the plot becomes so convoluted and ridiculous, I found myself rolling my eyes more than once. It's hard enough to buy the idea that the President wasn't actually shot and the person who we see murdered in the town square was really just his identical double, but then we're asked to believe that ONE man with a gun was later able to sneak into the hotel which was housing the real President, shoot his way through several floors of Secret Security agents, and then kidnap him by carrying him out on a stretcher covered with a blanket (Oh, by the way, spoiler alert!!)
Nevermind that the film never explains why these people want to kidnap the President. Or why they'd go through the trouble of shooting a man they knew wasn't the real President. Or why they'd spend more manpower on the fake assassination than they did on the kidnapping, which was their main objective.
And then the head Secret Security agent (played quite effectively by Dennis Quaid), who we've come to care about because of his tragic past and his loyalty to protecting the President, suddenly turns into an action hero and engages in an extended car chase through the crowded streets of Salamanca where he not only causes hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of property damage while in pursuit of one car, but also manages to drive through outdoor cafes and street markets without hitting a SINGLE pedestrian. Oh, and did I mention that his car gets rammed by a giant speeding truck, crunched up against a building, and yet he manages to hop right out of the vehicle completely unscathed in order to continue his chase on foot? Yeah. Cuz that happens.
This is a film which could have been great. But unfortunately the film-makers dropped the ball and opted to go the cheesy, overblown route with their story. That's not to say the film isn't fun to watch. But any fun I had while watching this movie was immediately cancelled out by the frustration of knowing these film-makers had the ingredients for a fantastic film, and blew it. Oh well. I think I'll go watch JFK again now.