Wednesday, January 07, 2009

"Rashamon" for the Video Age -- "Vantage Point" Review

The family and I sat down with the DVD for Vantage Point the other night. It's always nice to be pleasantly surprised by a movie, and VP did the job for me. Start with a simple thriller story, add a boffo car chase and a few surprise twists and you've got the makings of the standard Hollywood fare. But here's what makes “Vantage Point” stand out -- as in the classic Kurakawa film, Rashomon, you see the action that occurs in the movie numerous times, but from a different perspective each time.

No spoilers from me, but the action, involving the assassination of an American President, is shown and reshown from 8 different perspectives, with as many subplots as there are characters and viewpoints. Starring prominently are several video cameras, which serve as a convenient way to replay the action for the characters and the viewers. Our vantage points run the gamut -- from an American tourist to a compromised Spanish cop, to a gang of terrorists, to a twitchy Secret Service agent, and even to the President himself.

Performances are solid throughout. Dennis Quaid brings nervous energy and a “never give up” attitude to his role as a Secret Service agent, Forest Whittaker (The Last King of Scotland) is vulnerable yet resilient in his role as the tourist, and William Hurt puts in a good turn as the President.

Vantage Point will keep you guessing to the end, but thanks to first-time director's Pete Travis’ able work, you're intrigued and surprised, not frustrated, by the numerous plot twists. As you'd expect, all the loose ends wrap up into a tidy bundle by the end, but that's just fine. It's an enjoyable ride, and one you won't mind taking.

Put it on your Netflix queue. Ken's rating: 3-1/2 out of 5.


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