Vantage Point (2008)

Rated: PG-13 for sequences of intense violence and action, some disturbing images and brief strong language.
Length: 90 minutes
Grade: A-CCB+=B+
Budget: $40 million
Box Office: $150 million ($72 US, $78 Intl, $ DVD)

Written by: Barry Levy, with his first script.
Directed by: Pete Travis, with his first non-made-for-TV movie.
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Bruce McGill, Edgar Ramirez, Said Taghmaoui, Ayelet Zurer, Sigourney Weaver, and William Hurt.

The events surrounding an assassination attempt on the President of the United States at an anti-terrorism conference in Spain are shown repeatedly from the perspective of various observers and participants.

Entertainment Value: A-
I have wanted to see this movie ever since I saw the first ad for it. And then it was delayed in release, which worried me. But I was not disappointed at all. The script is amazingly tight, especially for a first-time writer. There are only a small number of unlikely-isms, but this is a well-conceived, well-completed, layer-by-layer peel-back action mystery that never gets boring.

Superficial Content: C
Drugs/Alcohol A, Sexuality A, Violence C-, Language C-, Illegality C
It’s a movie about terrorism, involving lost of gunplay and a shooting shown several times, many explosions, and a car chase. The language is on the heavier end of PG-13, although realistic, and the movie could have been rated R between language and violence. I’d say R-15, perhaps.

Significant Content: C
It’s a bit difficult to assess this because the movie isn’t a single movie, it’s more like 6-7 vignettes, and each vignette tends to take a slightly different moral perspective by favoring the characters it is portraying. So I’m tempted to say this movie endorses relativism, but it doesn’t really. It’s kind of a hero story. Kind of a principle story about restraint and power. And obviously an intrigue. Perhaps the main lesson here is really a good one to remember: people can perceive the same events very differently, and the real truth is hard to separate from any one person’s perspective.

Artistic/Thought Value: B+
The story itself is interesting, but the way the story is told is everything here. The technique is to tell us 15 minutes from one perspective, then rewind the events back to the same starting time for the next viewpoint and tell it again. Brilliant. Also, this lets you see new information and learn more each time.

Discussion Questions:
~Relativism is the idea that morality depends on the individual. Is this movie relativistic? Is this movie implying that terrorists are people, too? Why does this movie avoid giving any backstory to what motivates the assassins?
~Are there any elements of this movie that seem unlikely to you? How does the movie work to make you accept any portions that seem less believable?
~Given that crime-fighting is often about catching the right breaks, is it unfair to apply plausibility as a standard to movies like this?
~Who in this movie is a hero? What do you think of Forrest Whitaker’s character?
~Did your shock at the initial event lessen in subsequent viewings? How did your knowledge of this film’s plot affect even your first experience?
~Do you think it’s likely that public doubles could ever be used for famous people or politicians? ~What would you think of sending such a person into a dangerous scenario?
~How much of this movie depends on the power of the iphone? Do you think Apple subsidized the movie?
~Discuss the President’s decisions about bombing a training camp in another country. What do you think of his assertion that sympathy should be honored and not ruined? How does this concept mesh with America’s current foreign policy?
~What, if anything, is this movie trying to say about news media?
~What is it saying about the nature of truth?
Overall Grade: B+
I liked it. Well worth the mere 85 minutes of film time to watch.

No comments: