Vantage Point (2008)

(In theaters, February 2008) What an odd film: The stunning trailer promised a Rashomon-type assassination thriller with twisty levels of truth. The reality is a lot sloppier: While Vantage Point does offer multiple successive perspective on the same set of events, the impact never goes beyond that of a curious way to present a fairly straightforward thriller. The twists aren’t as impressive as you may think (the identity of a traitor can be guessed early on) and many elements feel forced in order to manipulate a reaction from the audience. The first few minutes are clunky from tons of hesitant exposition, while some elements of the plot never work like they should. There’s an interesting vibe to some of the material (the deliberately dovish president, the nebulous nature of the terrorists, the faint vibe that this may not turn out to be OK), but there’s also a sense that the film isn’t running on all cylinders. Ironically, it’s when the film drops the multiple-viewpoints pretense that it really kicks in high gear: The car chase through the streets of Valencia is good fun (a grim Dennis Quaid really sells the intensity of the pursuit), and the climax does actually work in a certain fashion. But the result seldom rises above its gimmicky flash: the twists are there for the sake of the twists, and if there’s a certain cleverness to it all, Vantage Point still feels as if it’s missing an important chunk.

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