“Vantage Point” – Susan Granger reviews

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This terrorism thriller has a terrific premise but fizzles into a forgettable formula.

In Salamanca, Spain, global leaders have gathered for an important World Summit Against Terrorism. At a midday rally in the city’s crowded Plaza Mejor, just as the President of the United States (William Hurt) is about to speak, he is shot by an assassin. Then a bomb goes off, reducing the government building behind him to rubble, as a TV news producer (Sigourney Weaver) and her crew watch, horrified by what’s unfolding in front of them.

This incident is repeated again and again, each time from a different person’s point-of-view, much like Kurosawa’s concept in his classic “Rashomon.”

There’s the perspective of Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid), an understandably edgy, veteran Secret Service agent who, a year ago, took a bullet to save his Commander-in-Chief’s life. At his side is his colleague, Agent Taylor (Matthew Fox), who has another angle, as does a plainclothes Spanish cop (Eduardo Noriega) and an observant American tourist (Forest Whitaker) who chronicles everything on his camcorder.

Although screenwriter Barry L. Levy and director Peter Travis add a fillip of new information, a tantalizing clue, with each retelling, tedium soon sets in, along with growing disbelief. Quick cuts and throbbing music punctuate the seemingly indestructible Barnes’ pursuit of the culprit. The climactic chase is ludicrous, as a multitude of characters careen through crowds, dodge bullets and crash cars – as the body count mounts. Obviously, there’s a dastardly conspiracy but the motive behind this complex exercise in lunacy is never revealed. So there’s no emotionally satisfactory payoff – and far too many loose ends.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Vantage Point” is a suspenseful 6 but it’s all too far-fetched to matter much.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.