Photobucket“This is an action packed thriller regardless of your vantage point!”

_ Vantage Point _ Title: Vantage Point

There is nothing quite like the look and style of the secret service. At least as seen in American movies. They are sort of that superhero, ninja, Bond all rolled into one black suit and ear piece. It is the toughest job on the planet since they are protecting the most hated man on the planet. Our president. They are ready to take a bullet if need be and have to be on constant alert for the crazy whacko’s out there that for love of money or media exposure would like nothing more than to take out the Commander and Chief. In the new film Vantage Point we watch as these men in black try and figure out who just took a shot at the President. And we get to watch it from several perspectives.

While in Spain for what is to be a peace rally of many nations there is an assassination attempt on US President Ashton (William Hurt). The 13 minutes that lead up to and follow that event are told and retold from the perspective of 5 individuals at the scene. As each retelling occurs we the audience get more and more pieces of information. And with each piece we get closer to figuring out who is who in this action thriller. Among the cast of characters are Secret Service agents Kent Taylor (Matthew Fox) and Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid) along with American tourist and rally attendee Howard Lewis (Forest Whitaker). With the information these three have gathered we get small pieces of the puzzle later filled in by the other Vantage Points.

Some viewers will feel cheated by the fact that they are only getting 13 minutes of plot replayed over and over again to make a 90 minute movie. It seems funny after a while as, after each vantage point, it is all rewound and started again. You know the climactic elements and each time it is only for character and plot definition. Personally I liked this style of filmmaking and even though I knew what was coming I felt it all fresh from the new perspective. Plus with each new telling there is a twist thrown in that makes you rethink everything you thought you saw. Or at least some of it. Quaid is a perfect good-guy patriotic hero and after some of his films of late we forget that. He has the rough and tumble ability and serious determination in his eye. Whitaker, as always, does what he needs to in order to make the roll top notch. I must admit I have a hard time seeing Matthew Fox in anything without wondering if this somehow ties in to LOST.

Do not let the theme fool you into thinking it is simply a head piece. Vantage Point is a quick action thriller with guns and explosions and one of the coolest and fast moving car chase scenes in some time. They fly through the narrow, twisty streets of Spain at impossible speeds. Director Pete Travis keeps you on the edge of your chair and your feet firmly planted to the sticky theater floor. That is the fun part of this film and makes you remember that after all it is movie entertainment. Though there is a serious story line and relevant cultural presence, it is in the end movie magic. That magic which allows for 100 mph car chases with last minute escapes. It lets the bad guy kill 25 men with a single assassin’s eye shot, yet prevents him from hitting the hero no matter how many times he fires at point blank range. That is the fun of action movies and Vantage Point has that and more.

The film is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense violence and action, some disturbing images and brief strong language. It does deal with the shooting of the president and terrorist style violence and action. What I did notice though is even though there is a lot of gun play the amount of carnage is minimal. They let you know who is shooting and who is being shot but spare us the buckets of blood sometimes found in these films. The language is never gratuitous and mostly from being caught up in the action. I have a feeling most critics will slam this for one reason or another, but if I am honest, which I always am, I have to admit I had a great time watching this film. Then again maybe it was just from my vantage point. I give it 4 out of 5, 4 out of 5’s.

Matt Mungle (matt@mungleshow.com)(2/19/08)

“Matt is a member of the North Texas Film Critics Association (NTFCA) and co-hosts a weekly radio feature, The Mungles on Movies, with his wife Cindy. For additional reviews, interview clips and great DVD giveaways, visit the website www.mungleshow.com”

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