Friday, April 4, 2008

Vantage Point *

Director: Pete Travis
Cast: Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker
Eduardo Noriega, Edgar Ramírez, Said Taghmaoui, Ayelet Zurer
William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver

Boasting an impressive cast, the film tells the story of the attempted assassination of the American President (Hurt) through eight different points of view.
The story unfolds in Salamanca, Spain, home to a world summit to stop terrorism where several heads of state are meeting. Of course the one causing the most controversy is the American one and in the film's only moment of truth, crowds are seen protesting and accusing him of being the real terrorist.
With this hostile setting, it comes as no wonder when the President is shot by a sniper. Minutes later a bomb explodes killing dozens of people in the square where the conference is being held.
After this, the film goes back in time to the exact same hour in order to show the events through the eyes of each character. Not as "Rashomon" in its development as it wants to be, it feels more like an episode of a television action drama, where after each commercial break we get new clues to solving the mystery and save the world.
While the technical execution is rather good and engaging (although they could've gotten a different shot of the explosion for each flashback...) , the story is filled with more clichés than a Hallmark card. These come especially in the form of some characters and the dialogues they're forced to say.
Weaver injects fire and entertaining bitchiness to a CNN like producer, Zoe Saldana brings a peaceful sense of dignity to her outspoken reporter. Noriega and Ramírez are affecting as opposing sides who have more than they think in common, Quaid's performance as a not so young bodyguard trying to live up to his glorious past gives the actor a great opportunity to shine and Hurt can probably do no wrong, despite the awful lines he's given which are supposed to be inspirational.
But with most characters the film paints everything too by the numbers, sometimes insulting laws of common sense.
As if this wasn't bad enough, most of the film's flaws come in the shape of stereotypes the characters are supposed to be fighting against.
Having Whitaker play a saintly man who can do absolutely no wrong and goes around saving little girls and taping everything with his indestructible camcorder comes off looking as a forced attempt to soften his enigmatic looks, while the beautiful Zurer is given Spanish lines which for American audiences might result romantic, but for people who know the language sound like soap opera parodies.
There is nothing eminently wrong with a Hollywood film that features over the top chase sequences, explosions and body doubles. In a way we've come to expect it of a film like this.
What results monstruous is that the same film tries to deliver a message of world conscience, while reducing the idea of terrorism to a game whose winning is limited to the regulations of American foreign policy.
A film which at some level tries to promote international understanding and then kills off every non American character comes off looking as one with double standards, or maybe scarily honest in its innocence not to nocitce what it's doing.

1 comment:

Michael Parsons said...

When will Weaver get her due.

She needs another "The Ice Storm"