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Every genre of film has a formula that most movies in that genre tend to follow. There are a few factors that separate a great movie from just average movies in a genre. One factor is an unique premise that makes a film seem fresh and stand out above the rest. It’s one thing to have an unique premise on paper, but it’s another thing to carry-through with the premise and after execution still think that a movie is unique and fresh. Sometimes when you dig for diamonds, you find nothing but shiny rocks in the end. Vantage Point is the latest film to have a unique premise. But after watching it, is it really a diamond in a field of rocks or just another shiny rock that looks good from far away?
In Vantage Point, President Ashton (William Hurt) is attending a global war on terror summit in Spain. Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid) and Kent Taylor (Matthew Fox) are two of the Secret Service agents assigned to protect him as the President is being shuttled to a plaza. They are met by a large group of protesters captured on a cable news network overseen by director Rex (Sigourney Weaver). The President is then led to a stage for an important speech opportunity. In the crowd are Howard (Forest Whitaker), an American tourist with an HD camcorder, Spanish cop Javier (Eduardo Noriega), and suspicious attendee Suarez (Said Taghmaoui). When a terrorist attack occurs on stage, it’s up to Barnes to piece together the different media and witness viewpoints to catch the culprits and rescue the President.
This movie is filled with some big name actors. For the most part, the acting overall is passable. Not the greatest performances from any of these actors as most everyone seems to just be “going through the motions.” But you can’t blame that entirely on the actors. Due to the nature of the premise of the film, we aren’t allowed to dive deeper into the backstories of the characters. There is some background information that we are given about some of the characters, but it all just seems like filler; none of it really affects the final outcome of the heart of this story. Dennis Quaid is supposed to be the lead star and he has carried previous films, but here he is not allowed to stand out any more than everyone else. Great acting can often elevate an average film, but for Vantage Point, the acting neither helps or hurt the film because it’s just average at best.
The premise is definitely unique. It’s almost like a mix between Groundhog Day and any other action thriller. They replay the same 23 minutes over and over again from a different point of view. That sounds good, but in the end it really hurts the momentum of the film. Just when you think you are going to get some answers, you get put back at the beginning to look for more clues. This starts to get tedious after three times, and eventually you just want the film to end to find out all the answers.
The only thing that keeps Vantage Point from being extremely boring and unwatchable is the pace. It is supersonic fast and there is enough action to entertain any action fan out there. Much credit to the director, Pete Travis, and producer, Neal Moritz, for that. You mostly won’t be able to notice the flaws of the film until it is over. But the premise of Vantage Point is like a double-edged sword. The premise brings people to the theaters to watch an interesting concept for a film, but it also holds the film back as the story and characters are never allowed to fully develop in the way they should. In the end, Vantage Point looks great from far away, but once you get closer to it and actually watch it you will find out that it’s nothing more than an average action film with a pretty bow wrapped around it.
The video is given in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen color, which is enhanced for 16:9 TVs. The video quality is great and above-average even for other new release DVDs. There are no major problems at all.
The audio included is available in English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound, Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound, and French Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Chinese, and Thai as well. The dialogue and music come out loud and clear, so no major problems here either. This is a pretty impressive lineup of audio options. Maybe a little overkill for an average film like this, but it’s nice that they covered pretty much every major language in the world.
Audio Commentary –
There is a full-length audio commentary from the director, Pete Travis. This is fairly interesting and reveals a lot of facts that you might not know. It’s is not as entertaining as it could have been, but Travis doesn’t bore the viewer as much as some other director-only commentaries have in the past.
“An Inside Perspective: Interviews with the Cast and Crew” Featurette –
This runs 27 minutes and it’s your standard “making-of” featurette. There are interviews from cast and crew about making the film and there is lots of behind-the-scenes footage as well. Nothing groundbreaking is said, but go here first if you want to learn more about the film.
“Plotting An Assassination” Featurette –
This runs 16 minutes and it’s another “making-of” featurette. This one focuses on the script and characters. It contains a lot of spoilers, as does the previous featurette, so watch only after you have seen the film. But again this is not “must-watch” material.
“Coordinating Chaos” Featurette –
This runs 7 minutes and it’s the final “making-of” featurette that features interviews from the crew as they talk about the issues that big action scenes and stunts can cause. But basically everyone tells you that car stunts can be tricky and dangerous. Somewhat interesting, but see the aforementioned featurettes.
“Surveillance Tapes” Outtake –
This runs for 1 minute and it’s supposed to be an outtake, but it’s really a gag take of director, Pete Travis, getting in on the film’s action. It is short and funny, but it’s still misleading as this is not actually a blooper with the actors as they shot this film.
This film is entertaining enough to be watchable, but that is only if you can disregard logic and the many flaws of the film. The premise is interesting, but it holds back the film from being better at the same time. Even hardcore fans of any of the main actors in this film will have to think twice about adding this DVD to their personal home entertainment library. Therefore, I can only recommend a rental here.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents Vantage Point. Directed by Pete Travis. Written by Barry Levy. Starring Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Bruce McGill, Edgar Ramirez, Said Taghmaoui, Sigourney Weaver, and William Hurt. Running time: 90 minutes. RATED PG-13. Released on DVD: July 1, 2008. Available at Amazon.com.