By simply remembering the tragic string of political assassinations in the United States and the subsequent conspiracy theories that accompany so many of them, I needed to see only a few frames of "Vantage Point" before appreciating how unashamedly exploitive this film is. Indeed, director Pete Travis leaves no button untouched in this enervating yet indefatigable action-packed political pot boiler destined for endless reruns on cable in the near future and television after 2015.
William Hurt is POTUS (President of the United States). 'President Ashton' is in Spain for an anti terrorism summit and gunned down onstage after being introduced by the local mayor. The title of the film implies we get to see the leader of the free world shot, over and over again, from every angle---and we do---but with just a bit more being added to each replay until we gradually learn who is doing what to whom---and why.
Dennis Quaid as Thomas Barnes gets central focus as a Secret Service agent who has already taken a bullet for this President in an earlier assassination attempt during his tenure as Commander-in-Chief (we get to see that shooting on videotape replay, too). Agent Barnes has hardly gotten himself back together from that event as he barges into this Spanish caper with fellow agents. Not to put too fine a point on it, Quaid plays Barnes in a single mode: a stressed-out man hurtling along a psychic precipice of disintegration.
There are other perspectives of the shooting as seen by characters in the film that include, Howard Lewis (played by Forrest Whitaker). He's a tourist who's shooting video of the president's appearance to take back to the U.S. to show his daughter. Other views that follow in succession are those of shadier, less respectable characters scattered in the sea of faces in front of the president. It's another non-sequential film that is merely more repetitious.
Screenwriter Barry Levy labors at giving "Vantage Point" some of the texture of the Oscar-winning film, "Crash." Notice the random connections that evolve among the disparate players. But unlike "Crash," this movie manages to be extraordinarily dull with never a dull moment. How surprising can it be when it's clear from the get-go this film will stop at nothing to surprise you?
There are no great performances to bring this picture along, either. Even the talented Mr. Hurt has little going. By film's finish I'd forgotten that Sigourney Weaver---without make up---is seen at the outset behind a GNN (yes, GNN) News console barking directions for the network's live coverage of the U.S. president. Weaver's character is named Rex Brooks.
"Vantage Point" preview