Monday, April 8, 2013

Vantage Point

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When people say a movie is “non-stop action,” they don’t mean it. The phrase is a useful hyperbole used to describe films that have intense action scenes in them. Because of how "Vantage Point" is structured, it really does become non-stop action. A terrorist act is displayed early on, and then the movie dances around explaining repercussions from different angles for the rest of its length. From the point when that crucial explosion occurs on, the movie does not let up. By the end, this becomes exhausting, and the movie feels much longer than it actually is. It does not help that the performances are not great. Dennis Quaid does his best with the underwritten role of a body guard with an Important Past full of Regrets. He emotes well and has a desperate energy, and he wins our sympathy, and so holds the movie together more than it deserves. We care, because we sense his innate decency. However, Sigourney Weaver is wasted here in the role of a news producer. Her character goes nowhere, and I wondered if she was added so the cameraman could film something while the other actors were desperately trying to catch their breath between takes. Forest Whitaker is merely passable here as a tourist with a video-camera and a sense of urgent compassion. The script gives him no other traits. William Hurt, a great actor in the right part, is also sadly wasted as the US president. You would think it would be an important role in this kind of movie, but he is allowed barely any screen time. Finally, the terrorists are rather unbelievable. They are always five steps ahead of everyone else. Their reasons for the act of terrorism are alluded to, but never fully fleshed out. Yet somehow, against all odds, this film was entertaining. The never-let-up pace didn’t let me think about the problems with the movie while watching it. And the gimmick of showing multiple angles did add an air of mystery, and somewhat covered up for the fact that other elements of style, like good camerawork, were mostly absent. So this movie basically worked, despite the leaky script and barely-there performances from its leads. I wouldn't exactly suggest going out of your way to find it, but if you're in the mood for something exciting and mostly mindless, and you're wandering around one of those stubbornly lingering movie rental stores, there are certainly worse options than the tense and somewhat loopy thriller "Vantage Point." How's that for a recommendation?

"Vantage Point" (PG-13) ***

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