For about half an hour, before the movie crashes and burns in a bonfire of exaggeration and stupidity overkill, Vantage Point shapes up as a nifty ride. Never heard of the director Pete Travis (though the name sounds familiar), but the guy knows how to pump the action pedal — hell, he floors it. We’re in Spain, in a town square where the U.S. Prez (William Hurt) is about to give a noontime speech on global terrorism. A network TV unit, headed by Sigourney Weaver, is recording the event for posterity. A network friend of mine hated this scene (“Three people running an historic peace conference broadcast from a single production truck ON SITE? Nonsense.”) If you’re a stickler for pesky facts this is not the movie for you.
Anyway, Weaver is looking for something to ward off boredom, when — boom! — someone takes a shot at the President and the building behind him blows up. What the hell? For the rest of the movie, Travis rewinds the event from six different — cue the title — vantage points. There’s Dennis Quaid as a Secret Service agent modeled on Clint Eastwood’s In the Line of Fire character minus the complexity. Next to him is his boss (Matthew Fox, looking lost outside of Lost). And, look, over there, it’s last year’s Oscar winner Forest Whitaker as a tourist with a restless camcorder. And so it goes, making so many impossible demands on us to suspend disbelief that the audience should demand combat pay. By the end, Vantage Point is such a unholy mess of drooling sentiment and sloppy loose ends that you’ll hate yourself for being suckered in.