Tuesday, December 15, 2009

“Vantage Point” – Don’t think too hard about this one.

The hardest part about making a conspiracy movie is convincing the audience that the conspiracy is plausible. One must carefully map out the clues, connections, conspirators, and execution of the conspiracy. One must also be careful not to try to do too much with it. After all, the more complicated the conspiracy becomes, the more chances there are for forgetting something that was brought up earlier, or the more chance there is for making the conspiracy too unbelievable. Overall, this movie was only okay. The acting was very good, the tempo and flow were excellent, and the production of each person’s vantage point was great. Unfortunately, the film fell into the trap that I just described. The writer tried to create an extremely complex conspiracy and it came out rather messy. If you like action films, or “24,” you’ll love this movie. If you like well written stories leave about halfway through. Otherwise, you will spend the ride home realizing just how many holes there were in this plot.

STOP. Here is your spoiler warning. There is no way I can properly review this movie without giving away the major details and plot devices. I am also going to give away the ending, because I hated it. I will also use the term “vantage point” as many times as I can. In short, I will ruin this movie for you.

Before I do, I must mention a couple of things first. One – how hard is it to run the projector and line up the picture with the screen? It can’t be too hard, since high school kids do it, and let’s face it; our public education system isn’t exactly stellar. On this occasion, a member of the audience had to go find someone to report that the subtitles were being cutoff because the picture was too low. They eventually fixed it, but by then, there were no more subtitles. Luckily, this wasn’t a foreign film or we’d have asked for our money back. We’re already overpaying just to see the movie; we don’t need to be fucked over again. Two – how often do you see a movie without having seen at least one (if not fifty) previews? Going into this movie, we all knew that it was about eight different people with a unique vantage point of the event. This is exactly how this movie was presented. Each vantage point was shown, sequentially, with a little clock in the lower left part of the screen showing the same start time for the start of each vantage point. A woman sitting behind us was audibly annoyed by this, expressing her displeasure louder with each new vantage point. After seeing this happen for the second vantage point, it should not have been a surprise when it happened several more times. Not only is this woman a complete moron, but she didn’t even have the respect not to “add her own soundtrack.” I can imagine this bitch giving the sun the finger every morning for having the audacity to rise. I hope her husband has the good sense to drive off an overpass the next time she guffaws at his use of a turn signal.

The plot of this movie is simple; terrorists are going to attempt to assassinate the President of the United States. Or are they? My impression from the previews was that there was going to be some internal conspiracy, since they show us that the person shot is actually the President’s double. My impression was completely wrong and thanks to the movie studios for giving away a major plot revelation in the preview. The terrorists know he’s a double, but shooting him is part of their ultimate plan of abducting the real president. They don’t want to kill the president and the audience never finds out why. There is a reference to some sort of international antiterrorism agreement (the purpose of the whole summit) and the closest we come to an actual motive is one of them saying that the war will never end. Huh? No lofty goals, no money demands, no warlords being let out of prison? Then why not just kill the president? Seems like that would be the ultimate goal, but I guess they had other plans.

The conspirator’s plan is also another murky part of the plot. They subvert one of the secret service agents, whose responsibility is to remove the remote controlled rifle from the surrounding building. First, what does it take to subvert a secret service agent? No film has ever told us this. Most times, the agent has some patriotic reason for doing it, or his wife and kids are being held hostage, but we have no idea here. Second, why use a remote controlled weapon, instead of a person, when you still have to remove it? Or why not rig the room to explode? They also employ one of the cameramen who is filming for Sigourney Weaver’s news team. His whole job seems to be telling them the president has arrived. Is this necessary? These guys know every detail of the Secret Service’s protection plans, but have no idea when he is arriving at the conference? Not only is this guy useless, the terrorists kill him towards the end of the movie. They also force some “special forces” guy to help them by abducting his brother. They were able to subvert a secret service agent simply by asking, but couldn’t find an unemployed assassin? Shit.

Now we turn our attention to Forrest Whitaker’s character. He is filming the conference when he notices Dennis Quaid focusing on the building behind him. Whitaker turns around and sees a man in one of the windows. We know that the building is cleared of people (they tell us this) and we know that the killer is simply a remote-controlled gun. Who the hell is the guy in the window? I wish I could tell you, but the writer forgot to include this in his revelations to us. And how the hell did they get the gun up there in the first place? In addition to not finding this gun, the secret service also forgot to check the hotel where the president is staying for explosives. The door man at the hotel has a belt of explosives in his locker and another room has a stash of guns for one of the terrorists. These are the crappiest agents ever. No wonder the president was pissed when he saw his favorite agent at the summit instead of protecting him.

Now, for the worst part of the movie: the end. The president is saved by a little girl. I am not making this up. Of all possible endings, this one is the dumbest. A little girl is crossing the street just when the terrorists are speeding through in an ambulance with the president. The female terrorist screams and points and the male terrorist, who is driving, yanks the wheel to avoid hitting the little girl. The ambulance rolls, the bad guys die and the president is saved. At this point, I can no longer be kind to this movie. Do they really expect us to believe that a woman who just shot a guy in the face is going to care about hitting a little girl? Do they really expect us to believe that a guy who has killed multiple people, exploded two bombs, and masterminded the entire plot, is going to ruin his whole plan, just to avoid killing a little girl? Fuck the writer and everyone who think that terrorists brake for children, especially in the middle of a getaway. This ruined the entire movie for me. In the thirty seconds following this crap, I thought of two endings that would have been better, and I’m sure I could think of more. But that’s just my vantage point.

Rating: Ask for eight dollars back. If the end wasn’t so stupid, I’d have said four.

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