Film: "Vantage Point"
Cast: Dennis Quaid
William Hurt, Forest Whitaker
Director: Pete Travis
This is "The Day Of The Jackal" on adrenaline. No shot in this breakneck political thriller lasts for more than 10 seconds. If you like studying faces to understand the overall design of a film, then forget it.
"Vantage Point" gives you no room to get familiar with the characters. All of them, without fail, are so busy saving their skins that you wonder about the quality of life bequeathed to us by political systems, where assassinations are a way of life.
It seems that director Peter Travis left the entire film in the editor’s hand. The narrative seems to have been put together on the editing table. The plot about the attempted assassination of the American president (William Hurt, bald but bristling with energy) goes back and forth in real time. It gives us several perspectives on the murderous plan and its implementation by men who know no way of life barring violence.
Often as you sit watching the videogame-styled shots being played out at lancing speed, you wonder if the game of cat-and-mouse is being played out with unnecessary violence.
Hammering away at the shots, the director provides no respite from the deluge of high-speed action. To his credit, Travis connects the political parable to the highest level of immediacy. We aren’t lost from the narrative even for a second, though after a point the format of narration overpowers the characters and narration.
There are no full stops or commas in storytelling, only exclamation marks as we go back by half an hour to recreate the circumstances leading up to the assassination through various perceptions. Amir Mokri’s cinematography ploughs through the wind looking for meaning in the meaningless mayhem.
We have seen the same format of storytelling in Akira Kurosawa’s "Roshomon" and Mani Ratnam’s "Yuva". But never so charged, electrifying and eager to grab eyeballs. Finally though, "Vantage Point" is more style than substance. Not a single member of the accomplished cast gets an opportunity to prove himself.