Plot Tricks in 'Vantage Point' Make It Implausible

Morning Edition and Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan reviews the thriller Vantage Point. It's the story of an attempted assassination of the president told from the point of view of eight people. Turan says that it's trying to be like the classic Japanese film Rashomon, but it's more like the story of the blind men and the elephant.

'Vantage Point'

William Hurt plays U.S. president in 'Vantage Point.' i i

hide captionThe shooting of a U.S. president (William Hurt) is the plot fulcrum for Vantage Point, a new thriller that tests the limits of audience credulity.

Daniel Daza/Sony Pictures Entertainment
William Hurt plays U.S. president in 'Vantage Point.'

The shooting of a U.S. president (William Hurt) is the plot fulcrum for Vantage Point, a new thriller that tests the limits of audience credulity.

Daniel Daza/Sony Pictures Entertainment
  • Director: Pete Travis
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Running Time: 90 minutes
Forest Whitaker as Howard Lewis in 'Vantage Point.'

hide captionForest Whitaker plays Howard Lewis, an American tourist who captures the assassination attempt on video.

Daniel Daza/Sony Pictures Entertainment

Asking an audience to suspend disbelief is one thing, asking it to turn a blind eye (or maybe two) is another. A presidential assassination thriller that posits an anti-terrorism treaty-signing held in a crowded Spanish square rather than behind closed doors might be said to be playing fast and loose with credibility.

Add a security agent (Dennis Quaid) known to his superiors to be a psychological time-bomb, and a motorcade that drops the president (William Hurt) off in a spot where he must walk through a teeming throng to sign the treaty, and you're entering the realm of the actively preposterous. Throw in a controversy-averse cable news director (Sigourney Weaver) who wants to avoid shots of protesters outside the event — and who orders a reporter to keep the narrative sunny and bright — and you've crossed into la-la-land.

And telling the story Rashomon-style, by backing up eight times to watch the ensuing chaos from the vantage points of various onlookers, assassins and security dudes, only makes every repeated implausibility loom larger.

Does it matter that the movie has a decent chase sequence? Well, sure ... though it'll help if you believe that getting rammed repeatedly by cars makes people run faster, and that U.S. Secret Service agents know the streets of Madrid well enough to shout their location into cellphones without so much as glancing at street signs.

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