Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog


Vantage Point

We went to see Vantage Point Monday night and let me tell you, if you want to have a theater all to yourself, go see a movie on a Monday evening.

Short version: Imagine the plots and subplots of an entire season of 24 edited down to under 2 hours. It would make about as much sense as this movie does. Wait for cable.

Long version: The plot tells the story of an assasination plot against the US President, played by William Hurt, who is about to sign a multi-national treaty that will supposedly end the threat of Islamic terrorism. The gimmick is that the story is told over and over through the point of view of five major characters, including a small girl, a Secret Service Agent, and an American tourist.

Using a non-linear format for telling a story is always a risk. The audience may become bored by the repetition or they may lose concentration and miss a key element. Or the writer may overly rely on the format to try and build suspense. Writer Barry Levy does a good job changing things up enough to avoid the first two issues, but falls prey to the third, ending two scenes with the Secret Service agent, played by Dennis Quaid, seeing something, yelling "Oh my God!" and running off screen. We end up having to wait through another retelling of the story from another point of view before finding out what it was he saw.

But there's a bigger problem. When you tell a story using a non standard format, the story has to be strong enough to be served by the format, not the other way around. In the case of Vantage Point, the format overpowers the story. As we move back and forth through time, subplots and characters are introduced to serve a plot element, then disappear without explanation. By the end of the movie, there are enough abandoned plot threads left dangling to weave another full movie, and sadder, that movie might prove to be the more interesting of the two.

Despite that, the movie is moderately entertaining, and the cast, with the exception of Matthew Fox, gives solid performances. Sigourney Weaver stands out in a smaller role as a cable news producer covering the story. Matthew Fox could have been replaced by Matthew Broderick and it would have been more believable.
Posted by Rich
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