Vantage Point

By Mark Ramsey | 2008/02/24

We open on an outdoor event celebrating an international effort designed to put a stranglehold on terror.

Thousands of cheering spectators are waving flags and wearing tee-shirts that might as well have big black bullseyes on the back.


On assignment from Global Fictional News Network is actress Zoe Saldana who has not only never been an international reporter but evidently has never seen an international report – unless you count an episode of America’s Next Top Model dubbed into French.

She is killed off early but is, as her stylist calls it, a “pretty corpse.” Some actors look so good dead you wonder why it’s so hard for them to pretend to be alive.

Vantage Point would earn more points if it featured fewer vantages. Every time we explore a new vantage point, this movie literally rewinds back to the beginning. This is a ten minute movie repeated six times! And after the first couple, the audience in my theater counted aloud!

And with each retelling this story gets ever-more outlandish, not unlike each new season of The Apprentice.

William Hurt is the President. Unfortunately he seems to have left his hair on the campaign trail in 1988. Come to find out, all Presidents have doubles. I don’t know what’s more surprising, that William Hurt has an exact lookalike or that they both lost their hair in 1988.

Think of it: Two William Hurts, both without hair, both competing for acting jobs and scheming their casting strategy. “This ought to give Jeff Daniels and Beau Bridges a run for their money,” said Hurt #1 to Hurt #2, clearly aiming high.

Dennis Quaid is a Secret Service agent who took a bullet for the President, just as he took one for Tom Hanks when he married Meg Ryan, and just as the audience took one for Quaid in Jaws 3-D. That’s the sequel where the late, great Roy Scheider uttered the immortal line, “You’re gonna need a bigger Anheuser-Busch-owned aquatic theme park!”


The fate of the free world is on Dennis Quaid’s shoulders, just as the fate of William Hurt’s hair was once on his own shoulders.

Terrorists were puzzled by Hurt’s Secret Service code name: “Kiss of the Spider Woman is on the move” said one agent into his thumb because, the Writers’ strike settlement notwithstanding, the thumb is the only thing in Hollywood which is opposable.

Sigourney Weaver is the TV news director who opens up this flick, then quickly disappears into legitimate theater for what must be the best Vantage Point of all.

Hey, there’s Forest Whitaker with a video camera in the crowd! Anytime there’s an Oscar winner in a crowd scene, you can assume he’s not filling in his discretionary time with background work, but this role is not far from it. Note to Forest’s agent at WMA: “What part of ‘starring Dennis Quaid and William Hurt don’t you understand?’”

“Hey, isn’t that Uganda dictator Idi Amin in the crowd?” asks one Secret Service agent.

“No, that’s Jazz great Charlie Parker!” said the other.

“In a Dennis Quaid/William Hurt movie?!”

“You’re right. Maybe it’s Bernie Mac.”

The second half of this flick is way better than the first, once the film stops its incessant rewinding.

Every plot point converges at the end, as the story ties itself up in a tight little bow in the hope that you can re-gift it to a friend when you decide that no matter how many vantage points you have on a Hickory Farms gift basket…

…it still contains a beef stick.


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