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Vantage Point, Nationwide
Wednesday 26 March 2008
Vantage Point is not a movie of words. It is no Lions for Lambs. And Dennis Quaid is certainly no Tom Cruise. Yet, much like another post-9/11 picture, Rendition, the film's major event (a terrorist bomb going off) is witnessed by different characters, each with a different, subjective point of view. All this makes for edge-of-the-seat viewing. And while by the third or fourth rewind, my fellow cinema-goers were becoming restless, I would say that Vantage Point's nonstop symmetrical elegance is to be applauded.
Peter Travis's film treads the political line carefully, in a Rendition-like fashion. Gavin Hood, the director of that film, refused to pinpoint the exact locale of his film – safely opting instead for the north African expanse – and Travis makes no reference to a specific religion, and only vaguely points to a possible mujahidin conspiracy. Even so, one scene, in which the US President is shown to be willing to court global sympathy after a tragedy, while concurrently finding himself at the mercy of his ostensibly hawkish handlers, tallies with the post-9/11 psyche perfectly.
Vantage Point fits squarely into the geopolitical-thriller niche (concluding with a high-octane, Ronin-style car chase that quickens the pulse), but its conventions are all too familiar. Sigourney Weaver is an under-used heavyweight here, whereas Forest Whitaker is an over-used lightweight. Worse still, Quaid, the main protagonist, remains utterly unentertaining throughout – and these are meant to be the good guys. Conversely, and perhaps predictably, the bad guys prove far more gripping (save for Lost's Matthew Fox, who is bland beyond belief).
To the unsuspecting eye, and upon first viewing, Vantage Point appears to be free of political motivation. But this would be a supremely naive judgement, for it certainly sets itself against the war on terror. Just consider the bad guy's chilling final words to the good guy: "You can't stop this, you'll never stop this. This war will never end!" Subtle as it is in parts, Vantage Point, like Rendition or Lions for Lambs, is an anti-war movie. It's just a matter of how you look at it.
Lee P Ruddin, Student, London
Vantage Point, (12A, Peter Travis, 89mins), Nationwide
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