Vantage Point has a gripping premise that, for a while, at least, is grippingly executed. In a Spanish town square, the U.S. president (William Hurt) is about to address a global summit on terrorism. Moments after stepping to the podium, he is struck by an assassin’s bullet; a minute later, a bomb explodes, killing dozens. The scenario unfolds from the point of view of a CNN-style news outfit, its producer (Sigourney Weaver) barking orders from a command center. The movie then ”rewinds,” and we see the same tense few minutes played out again — this time from the POV of the Secret Service agent (Dennis Quaid) who had tried to stop the man he thought was the assassin. Then we see the events again, and again, a grand total of six times.
The director, Pete Travis, is a pulse-pounding technological showman whose high-strung, quick-cut style might be described as JFK meets Paul Greengrass meets Jerry Bruckheimer. That said, it’s not the plot that thickens — it’s the pulp. Vantage Point starts to slide off the rails when it tracks a tourist (Forest Whitaker) and his trusty camcorder; instead of Zapruder-like intrigue, the episode has him running around like an agent in a rote thriller. The segments just get more ludicrous from there. It reveals nothing to say that if a government ever used a stunt double, it couldn’t do so this openly, or that the last episode is such a bombastic pileup of schlock conspiracy and gunplay it would embarrass Tom Clancy. C+