Vantage Point

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Vantage Point

Release Date: Feb. 22
Director: Pete Travis
Writer: Barry Levy
Cinematographer: Amir Mokri
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt
Studio/Run Time: Columbia Pictures, 90 mins.

You might be surprised to learn that a stout man (Forest Whitaker) can hold his own in a foot race against a trim, speedy man (Eduardo Noriega)

, even after pausing to place an international call to his wife, help a little girl in peril (twice), and shoot some action footage with his video camera.

But what Whitaker knows—and what anyone who ventures into a theater to see Vantage Point needs to keep in mind—is that this movie uses a special variant of Euclidian geometry. If you were traveling through the regular grid of, say, New York City, you'd know that you can't catch up with the guy you're chasing by running perpendicular to his path. But on the crazy streets of a topsy-turvy place known as "Spain," who knows? Maybe you can! Maybe up is down, maybe fast is slow, and maybe nonsensical shit is box-office gold.

Dennis Quaid plays a Secret Service agent who's accompanying President Ashton (William Hurt) to a public appearance for an important speech about peace and terrorism. The agent took a bullet for the President once before, but this time there’s nothing he can do. Just before the speech, someone shoots the U.S. leader in the chest.

Vantage Point bills itself as a high-concept film, because after the shooting and subsequent mayhem, the movie rewinds 23 minutes to show us the same events from a different character's perspective, and it rewinds again for another perspective, and so on, to see just how much nonsense we can take.

The concept itself sounds workable in an energetic, Run Lola Run sort of way, but even without the psychological or philosophical depth of multiple-viewpoint movies like The Conversation or Rashomon, a fun puzzle of a movie still requires precise timing and rigorous attention to detail. For all of its faults, No Country For Old Men proves that meticulous logic alone can propel a movie for a thrilling hour.

But a film that thwarts logic at every turn leaves us in the lurch, because the events we’re supposed to care about can never properly line up. It’s a puzzle cut by a drunken, three-fingered jigsaw operator who lost a few pieces and chewed on a few others.

Stripped of all reason, Vantage Point relies instead on noise, fast editing, a score recycled from 24, and convoluted twists concocted by filmmakers who seem disinterested not only in timing and detail but also, eventually, in their film’s idea, as if pointless vantages had been grafted onto a linear story solely to dress it up for the trailer.

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