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REEL CRITIC:

The cheap Saturday afternoon matinee was invented for movies just like “Vantage Point.” Simply put, this is a movie you will feel comfortable, if not happy, paying the reduced ticket price at a matinee. Wait until the evening and pay the full freight, and you might be looking for the theater manager and a refund.

“Vantage Point” is an action-thriller with a twist. We see the main story line repeated over and over from a different character’s point of view. While in Spain to address an anti-terrorism summit, the president is shot, and a bomb is set off in the crowd.

The Secret Service agents in charge take off in pursuit of the assumed perpetrators. After the shots and explosion, “Vantage Point,” literally, rewinds the film to the beginning, and we then see the same event from another point of view — that of the agents, the assassins, an innocent bystander and the president himself.

“Vantage Point” is like an entire season of “24” compressed into a two-hour movie. Each time the film rewinds, it feels like the end of an episode, and when the clock resets, it’s the beginning of a new episode. That we actually see the film rewind, again and again, gets old really quick.

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Despite its fairly routine plot twists and action, the less-than-interesting dialogue and predictably wooden characters, I still, somehow, kind of liked “Vantage Point.”

A lot of that has to do with the first-rate, eclectic cast that includes, among others, Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt and Forest Whitaker. It also features some of today’s better character actors like Bruce McGill and James LeGros.

“Vantage Point” is also clearly influenced by the “Jason Bourne” movies, but except for a pretty darn good car chase, it doesn’t come close to matching that series’ high-tension mark for action.

There is no memorable dialogue, and it mostly flows along the lines of, “POTUS is down! I repeat, POTUS is down!” which translated means the president has been shot. If you are halfway paying attention, you can probably piece together who the bad guys are and what they are up to.

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The character segments are inconsistent as well. The two weakest are the opening, with Weaver as a tough news director and later, Whitaker as a nice, lonely American trying to rebuild his life on vacation in Spain.

In short, the movie is better when it’s spending time shooting and blowing things up. The movie’s last twist, when all the characters meet in one final near-collision, is a real stretch, considering all the carnage that has come before.

“Vantage Point” is unassuming entertainment. That it doesn’t seem to try too hard to be liked is both its strength and weakness. That you will probably forget the entire movie in about a day is probably its strength and weakness as well.


?BOB HARRIS has been hooked on movies since he was 13 when his brother got a job in a multi-plex and Bob saw all the movies he wanted for free.


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