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Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid) and Kent Taylor (Matthew Fox) are Secret Service agents assigned to protect President Ashton (William Hurt) at a landmark summit on the global war on terror. When President Ashton is shot moments after his arrival in Spain, chaos ensues. In the crowd is Howard Lewis (Forest Whitaker), an American tourist video taping the historic event to show his kids when he returns home. There is also Rex (Sigourney Weaver) an American TV news producer who is reporting on the conference. It's only as we follow each person's perspective of the same 15 minutes prior to and immediately after the shooting that the terrifying truth behind the assassination attempt is revealed.
For more about Vantage Point and the Vantage Point Blu-ray release, see Vantage Point Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on July 2, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Bruce McGill, Édgar Ramírez, Zoe Saldana
Director: Pete Travis
» See full cast & crew
Vantage Point Blu-ray Review
Should you take aim at this Blu-ray?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, July 2, 2008
The President of the United States has been shot.
Vantage Point is a film I expected to enjoy just a bit more than I did. The promise of political intrigue, thrills, mayhem, and violence piqued my interest and had me eager to screen and review the film. The presence of two of my favorite actors, Dennis Quaid (The Rookie) and Forest Whitaker (The Air I Breathe), added to my anticipation. Helmed by Peter Travis in his first theatrical film, Vantage Point is a slick, fast-paced thriller that unravels well until the climax, where the smooth unraveling of ideas and unveiling of information becomes a convoluted hodgepodge of action and answers that overwhelm the viewer and leave a sour taste when the credits roll, a taste that plays in contrast to a luscious, palatable first hour of movie magic.
Vantage Point is twenty-three minutes worth of story spread out into a 90 minute movie. On the verge of an historic summit on terrorism, the President of the United States is set to deliver an address to a cheering crowd when he is shot twice. In the mayhem that follows, two explosions rock the city, one in the distance, the other in the square, killing and wounding dozens of onlookers who just witnessed an attempt on the President's life. The most basic of angles is seen first, through the eyes of a news director (Sigourney Weaver, Ghostbusters) and various cameras covering the event. This most distant and impersonal witnessing of the tragedy provides only the most basic of facts, a birds-eye view, so to speak, of what has unfolded before the world. As the audience becomes privy to various perspectives of the incident, including those of Secret Service agent Thomas Barnes (Quaid), a Spanish police officer named Enrique (Eduardo Noriega, The Devil's Backbone) assigned to protect the city's mayor, a crowd member with a video camera named Howard Lewis (Whitaker), the President himself (William Hurt, Dark City), and the assassins, Vantage Point adds pieces to the puzzle with each new perspective, leading to a few surprise twists in this fast-moving, relatively exciting whodunit.
Vantage Point features two clunky bookends that surround an entertaining, edge-of-your-seat thriller. The film's weak links are its first perspective (Weaver's) and its finale. The emotion and fear as displayed by the various members of the media to the unfolding of several history-making events feels like the reaction they might express after witnessing something far more mundane and less important in the grand scheme of things, like their favorite team losing the World Series or learning their neighbor's dog died. When you see people interviewed that remember the JFK assassination, for example, you can oftentimes still see the horror in their eyes. This reaction felt a bit too casual and rehearsed, and failed to instill in me the slightest bit of tension or apprehension for what was to come, or for what had just happened. Thankfully, some slick, skillful direction and acting brings the viewer back into the spirit and chaos of the film. It builds steam, intrigue, and tension until we arrive at the other bookend, the film's finale. Here, the movie's excitement falls apart quickly during an overly long and none-too-exciting car chase and a barrage of revelations that come quickly and confusedly. Neither bookend makes the movie bad; Vantage Point is still a solid 90 minute time waster. It is a skillful, taut, action flick that holds no immediate replay value (as opposed to something like No Country For Old Men, a film I was ready to watch again two seconds after the credits began to roll) but is one of those movies that, if you give it six months or a year, will probably hold your interest yet again for another ninety minute viewing.
Vantage Point is like the movie on the other end of the spectrum from Run Lola Run. Whereas Lola rennt (that's the German title) showed us the same beginning to the story and provided to us a differing outcome each time it reset, Vantage Point takes the same moment in time and adds layers and information to each subsequent reboot. Both work well. Lola, for my money, is the far superior film, but for a Hollywood "here one minute and forgotten the next" thriller, Vantage Point works well enough. Director Peter Travis' frenetic, quick-cutting camera movements may not appeal to all, but they aided in creating a sense of confusion and chaos in the picture, and most importantly, acted as our lens to the proceedings, and his sometimes uncontrolled camera movement places the audience in the square and elevates the palpable tension level several notches.
Vantage Point Blu-ray, Video Quality
From my perspective, Sony has once again delivered a first-rate 1080p high definition transfer of a brand new release, this time with Vantage Point. The 2.40:1-framed image consistently proves to be a stunner that's exceptional in all the expected places. Color reproduction and fine detail manage to stand above the crowd. Colors abound throughout the movie, from the opening moments to the last. The red and yellow Spanish flags seen waving about, the various protest placards (including several anti-"W" signs that stick out like a sore thumb), the wide array of clothing worn by every character, and the beautiful earthy tones of the Spanish architecture all come together to form brilliant eye candy. Detail is remarkably consistent and reproduced at an extremely high level. Everything, from the bricks lining the streets of Spain, to the facades of the various buildings, to the rubble strewn on the ground after an explosion, to the fine lines and stitching as seen in various pieces of clothing, to the facial hair and fine lines and wrinkles of characters faces, and even to the visible wear on the magazine we see Barnes inserting into his P229 standard-issue Secret Service sidearm, appears with a sparkling realism that, combined with the frenetic pace and shooting style of the film, adds a wonderful authenticity to the Vantage Point experience. Even after the movie is over, I still find myself in awe of the wonderful detail of the architecture of the buildings seen in the film. Although the filmmakers had to substitute Mexico for Spain and the Plaza Mayor (I've been there!), the locations look great and translate well to high definition. I could watch this movie again for the set pieces alone. Long-distance detail is solid; the individuals in the crowd at the event cannot be clearly distinguished one from another due to distance, but for the length of the shots, what we see is perfect in its appearance. Flesh tones are accurate throughout, and black levels are solid but also appear as a shade of dark gray in a few scenes. Vantage Point is a stunner of a transfer that wouldn't be a bad choice to use as a video demonstration the next time you have friends come over to check out your Blu-ray home theater.
Vantage Point Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Vantage Point comes to Blu-ray with another high quality Dolby TrueHD 5.1 sound mix. As expected of a brand new release fresh out of theaters, this Blu-ray disc from Sony sounds marvelous. The film's first few minutes are marked by a few loud, sudden bursts of sound, including an explosion that rocks your home theater and puts the viewer firmly in the middle of the action. As the film repeats itself several times from varying "vantage points," these same noises represent one of the central "characters" of the film and the aural impact they create in the audience is one of the most important aspects of the film. Ambient noise and atmosphere is excellent. Outdoor shots of the summit feature incredibly lifelike crowd noise. Not only is the crowd's chanting, protesting, and applause placed in the rears (and the front speakers as well), but the sounds of flash bulbs, car doors slamming, and other niceties are spread throughout the sound system, so that the experience places you in the midst of the action. The effect is simply uncanny. The only real-life experience I have to compare it to is the feeling of being at a frenetic sporting event, and the feel is similar. The film's pulsating score, best exemplified by the chase music heard about 65 minutes into the movie, is room-filling and entertaining. Its fast techno-beat and pace is a perfect fit for the feel of the movie, one that is serious in story but not completely realistic in tone. Vantage Point's aural experience is rounded out by first-rate dialogue reproduction. This is one movie that definitely benefits from the Blu-ray treatment insofar as the movie looking and sounding more real and palpable as a result of the increased resolution and capacity of this high definition format.
Vantage Point Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Vantage Point allows viewers to scope out some decent extra materials. First up is the obligatory commentary track with director Peter Travis. Travis comes across as a bit dry at first but soon enough opens up and offers listeners the information they expect to hear out of a commentary for a movie of this caliber, namely basic information such as shooting locations and the joy of working with the cast. Nothing is too Earth-shattering or fascinating; the information is still solid and, at times, interesting. Although plagued by just a bit of dead air, Travis does a good job of tying together the plot lines and spelling out what's happening for audiences, all the while selling the movie, leaving me wanting to view it again through his perspective. Three featurettes are next. An Inside Perspective (1080p, 26:43) is your typical pat-on-the-back piece that runs the gamut of the film's characters and actors. Once again, Travis is mostly engaging and does a fantastic job of selling the entire package. Plotting an Assassination (1080p, 15:59) examines the foundation that holds up each of the movie's various perspectives. Coordinating Chaos (480p, 7:27) looks at the stunts and special effects seen throughout the film.
Surveillance Tapes (480p, 0:42) is an outtake where director Peter Travis bursts into a room and fires a weapon, replicating one of the film's key scenes. Vantage View: GPS Tracker allows viewers to follow the progression of eight characters in a mini-map on the bottom of the screen. Each is represented by a different colored dot on the map, and pertinent scenes from each character's perspectives are seen as they fit into the story. Vantage Point is also BD-Live (Blu-ray profile 2.0) enabled. At the time of writing, the BD-Live page offered two unique special features: Trick Geography, which is a look at how Mexico substituted for Spain during the film's shoot, and Enhancing the View, which takes viewers behind-the-scenes with the film's special effects wizards who share with us how the film's crowd scenes were created. Rounding out the special features are 1080p trailers for 21, Persepolis, Prom Night, The Other Boleyn Girl, Made of Honor, Across the Universe, and Steep.
Vantage Point Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Despite a somewhat unique premise, a decent story, and some exciting and tense moments, Vantage Point is an average thriller at day's end. With expected solid efforts by the film's stars (save for a mostly bland Sigourney Weaver), competent direction from Peter Travis, and a mostly exciting story that picks up steam throughout but falls back to Earth at the end, Vantage Point is a film that, from my perspective, is worth checking out. Sony has another winner on their hands. The studio continues to churn out arguably the best overall discs on the market today, especially with regard to their new releases. With video and audio qualities worth noting, and a set of extras that are par for the course in both quality and quantity, Vantage Point is a Blu-ray disc worth adding to your collection if you can find it at a decent-for-you price point. Recommended.
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Vantage Point Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Vantage Point Announced for Blu-ray - April 28, 2008
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the thriller 'Vantage Point' to Blu-ray on July 1st, day-and-date with the DVD release. Video will be presented in 2.40:1 1080p AVC accompanied by a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. Extras include ...
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