Movie News & Reviews

'Vantage' pointless

'Vantage Point" may be the most grueling 15 minutes you'll have to endure.

Technically, that's how long the movie runs -- or, at least, that's how much of it is interesting. But the movie keeps turning the clock back so many times, you may start feeling like Bill Murray in "Groundhog Day," reliving the same tedious moment over and over again. It's kind of shocking that the movie only lasts an hour and a half; it seems much, much, much longer.

The movie keeps tripping back in time (or keeps trippin', period) to show the different "vantage points" of people as they witness the assassination of the president of the United States (William Hurt) during a visit to Spain for a terrorism summit. These various parties -- the veteran, wounded Secret Service agent (Dennis Quaid); the camcorder-wielding American tourist (Forest Whitaker); the suspicious-looking plainclothes cop (Eduardo Noriega) -- separately spend the rest of the movie piecing together how all went down, amid foot chases, shootouts and the random explosion.

But here's the thing: You may already figure out what happened way, way before the story throws any twists, red herrings or other monkey wrenches into the program. It's unfortunate because you have to wait until the last 15 minutes for the real action to happen. Every time the movie gets remotely intriguing, the clock strikes 12, and we're right back to where we started.

"Point" reaches levels of sparkling pitifulness I can't even put into words. Whoever director Pete Travis and writer Barry Levy are, they seriously need to go to a corner and think about what they've done. They must've decided that the movie's gimmicky, screwing-with-time aspect would win viewers over. But it only reminds us how fatuous and feebleminded the story really is.

And the fact that so many famous faces agreed to star in something so inane further shows you that actors have bills to pay too. However, that still doesn't let them off the hook for their banal performances. Quaid is achingly straight-faced, literally acting as though he's on the verge of popping a blood vessel throughout the whole movie. I still don't know if Hurt is playing the president as if he's a head-in-the-clouds Bush or a head-in-the-sand Kerry. And to be honest, whenever I see recent Oscar winner Whitaker play an average Joe, he looks scarier than when he plays somebody like Idi Amin. If that's not enough, we have Matthew Fox blanding it up as another Secret-Service agent, Zoe Saldana as the world's youngest (and utterly unprofessional) news reporter and Sigourney Weaver, literally sitting her brief performance out, as a TV news producer.

If it weren't for the block-decimating, we're-obviously-ripping-off-the-"Bourne"-movies car chase at the end, "Point" would hardly have anything worth recalling. That's the sad thing about this movie; the filmmakers go about building such a quick, brain-dead thrill ride, that it doesn't even build enough of an impression in your mind after you've seen it.

The movie may be called "Vantage Point," but it could not care less about perspective.