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 citys 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 whats unfolding in front of them.
This incident is repeated again and again, each time from a different persons point-of-view, much like Kurosawas concept in his classic Rashomon.
Theres 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-Chiefs 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, theres a dastardly conspiracy but the motive behind this complex exercise in lunacy is never revealed. So theres 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 its all too far-fetched to matter much.