Snake Eyes sprinkled with talking points, Vantage Point is a feature-length gimmick masquerading as a geopolitical thriller. Trafficking in the topical namechecking that passes for political filmmaking in the Bush era (imagine this movie in Alan Pakula’s hands), the plot pivots on an attempted presidential assassination in Salamanca, Spain, during a global summit on terrorism. The film, time-conscious à la 24, rewinds to literal high noon and plays the event from a total of six perspectives, getting us closer to the principal parties with each version. We move from a TV crew to a Secret Service agent (Quaid) to a tourist (Whitaker) to the target and his assassins. The film boasts a certain symmetrical elegance, with successive chapters providing new, carefully telegraphed “twists,” the biggest of which is blown in the trailer.
Is there more to this admittedly slick production than watching a jerry-rigged system close in on itself? Nods are made in the direction of substance—Americans “cannot imagine the world from a perspective where they’re not ahead,” sneers a terrorist, amid a scheme that involves more doubles and decoys than a Brian De Palma Vertigo riff. Hoping to capitalize on the world’s sympathy after tragedy, the President (Hurt) is a decent, vaguely liberal presence at the mercy of his hawkish handlers. What happens to him amounts to a toothless wish-fulfillment fantasy, as the movie peels away its ambiguities and crescendos into an exciting car chase. How Vantage Point was deemed releasable after Benazir Bhutto’s death is a question for the marketers.
Cast and crew