Combustible Celluloid
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With: Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Bruce McGill, Edgar Ramirez, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ayelet Zurer, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt, James LeGros, Eduardo Noriega, Richard T. Jones, Holt McCallany
Written by: Barry Levy
Directed by: Pete Travis
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense violence and action, some disturbing images and brief strong language
Running Time: 90
Date: 02/13/2008

Vantage Point (2008)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Doom with a View

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The President of the United States (William Hurt) is shot during a peace summit in Spain. Several different characters see the events from slightly different angles, and so writer Barry Levy and director Pete Travis give us each perspective, starting at the exact moment and unfolding during the same time frame. A TV news crew, led by Rex Brooks (Sigourney Weaver) captures everything on several cameras. A nervous Secret Service agent, Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid), sees things from the stage and tackles a suspicious-looking local (Eduardo Noriega). An American tourist, Howard Lewis (Forest Whitaker) -- luckier even than Abraham Zapruder -- gets images of the assassination and just about everything else on his digital camera. And so it goes. Each segment expertly gives away just a little new information each time; red herrings are revealed and new villains make themselves known. It's crackerjack, comic book entertainment. But when all the characters are introduced, the filmmakers drop their Rashomon-like structure and turn the movie into an all-out chase scene with a definitive conclusion. (The point of Rashomon was that no one, including the audience, could know the larger truth.) And, despite the presence of such charismatic actors as Noriega, Edgar Ramirez, Saïd Taghmaoui and Ayelet Zurer, the bulk of the movie is reserved for the heroic Americans. Even so, I forgave its sins for delivering at least an hour of undiluted enjoyment, and for not dissolving into a jumble of shaky, unwatchable footage. James LeGros turns up in a small part as a presidential aide, and Matthew Fox is miscast in a bum role.

DVD Details: Sony's new DVD comes with a fairly routine commentary track by director Travis, various making-of featurettes with the usual clips and talking heads, plus a quickie little joke involving Travis. It also comes with a plethora of trailers, including Hancock, The House Bunny, Lakeview Terrance, and others. Vantage Point

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