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VANTAGE POINT
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt
Director: Pete Travis
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Sony
Features: See Review
Length: 90 Minutes
Release Date: July 1, 2008

“CONTROL IS COMPROMISED!”

Film ***1/2

If you took Rashomon and mixed in narrative along the lines of 24 and Lost, the result would look a lot like Vantage Point. Here’s an action thriller that does something risky; it takes a story that basically runs twenty minutes, but is able to stretch it out to a feature length film by showing the story play out from multiple points of view. It’s a gimmick that may frustrate some viewers, but for me I found every minute of it thrilling.

All the action centers on the assassination of the U.S. President (William Hurt) during an anti-terrorist summit in Salamanca, Spain. The fired shots cause immediate panic amongst the crowd of hundreds. Minutes after the assassination, there’s an explosion in the distance, only to be followed by a more devastating one that results in many casualties.

Now here’s where the movie applies its gimmick. We see the assassination within the first ten minutes of the movie. But the movie literally rewinds the action, as we see the event unfold from the perspectives of multiple characters.

These characters include Secret Service agent Barnes (Dennis Quaid), who’s on his first assignment since taking a bullet for the President one year earlier. His partner, Taylor (Matthew Fox), also pays witness to the event. We see the assassination unfold from the perspective of a TV producer (Sigourney Weaver), an undercover cop (Eduardo Noriega) and an American tourist (Forest Whitaker).

With each new perspective, more and more clues unfold and a number of twists are revealed. And when the last vantage point unfolds, I must say I was floored by the crucial twist revealed. Afterwards, I found myself on the edge of my seat during the fast paced climatic car chase, one so over the top I kept expecting Jason Bourne to pop up.

I really have to hand it to first time director Pete Travis and screenwriter Barry L. Levy for applying such a unique narrative to what is pretty much a traditional assassination thriller. The gimmick of rewinding the action and having it unfold from the eyes of a different character is something that would not work for every movie, but it certainly does here.

Vantage Point is top-notch popcorn entertainment with a nice touch of artistry thrown in. Those in search of a truly solid action thriller will easily get their fix with this flick. It’s quick, it moves at a fast paced and it really is one of the best action thrillers in recent memory.

Video ****

I was given a most terrific disc from Sony for my very first Blu-Ray review. I must say that I am quite astonished by how amazingly clear and crisp the picture quality is, as opposed to regular DVD format. The anamorphic picture is most phenomenal, as we get an absolutely bright and detailed image. The movie mostly takes place in daylight, thus offering consistent bright imagery and tremendous colors.

Audio ****

Likewise, this was my first experience with a Dolby TrueHD sound mix, and I can honestly say that I was more than blown away. The escalating suspense the movie has to offer works tremendously in delivering the level of astonishing sound that Dolby TrueHD has to offer. Plus, the movie’s final twenty minutes are nothing but fast and furious sound, as action and speeding cars take center stage! Music score and dialogue delivery are most fantastic, as well.

Features ***1/2

This Sony release has plenty to offer, starting with a commentary with director Pete Travis, three well-handled featurettes; “An Inside Perspective: Interviews With The Cast And Crew”, “Plotting An Assassination” and “Coordinating Chaos”, as well as a collection of outtakes titled “Surveillance Tapes”.
The best feature on the disc, which is a Blu-ray Exclusive, is the Vantage Viewer: GPS Tracker, which allows you to see what all is going down with each character as the actual movie plays.

Summary:

Vantage Point is both a solid action thriller and a phenomenal Blu-Ray presentation. And if you are a big fan of either 24 or Rashomon, you will definitely get some bang for your buck here. Watch closely, or you might miss something!

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