While Vantage Point reminds us of Groundhog Day as it passes us back and forth from the view of eight different observers and participants in an attempted murder of the President of the United States (William Hurt) in a Spanish town square as he begins a global warming summit. Without the comic intent from Groundhog Day, we follow the characters into the square beginning at noon and then retreat backward through fast motion to noon time as another character takes his/her place on the stage.
Dennis Quaid's Thomas Barnes has been placed back on the President's secret service team after taking a bullet for the President a relatively short time earlier and some agents question his stability and energy for the job. His colleague Kent Taylor (Matthew Fox) is the agent who has requested he return. As quickly as we spot the traitor we are lead into different directions to learn the plot and who are the other participants. Director Pete Travis uses a stream of time and involvement in the story for each character up to the climax, before he begins the next character's vantage point.
The constant action even when repetitive holds our attention and draws us into the confusion that occurs as shots ring out and a building explodes. Unlike the recent Cloverfield which attempts to display action by moving the camera up, down and sideways, the movement of the characters along with their motivation to protect or destroy does not allow us to look away.
Dennis Quaid's Barnes has some of the characteristics of Clint Eastwood's Frank Horrigan from In The Line of Fire because he is returning to duty following an attempt on the President's life; he also has a chase scene near the end which could fit in The French Connection. Forest Whitaker finds the action swirling around him as he video tapes what he expects to be a presidential address and he may have the answers in his camera as he works to save a little girl named Anna at the center of the climax of the film. Rex Brooks (Sigourney Weaver) directs a news program covering the event and pushes reporter, Angie (Zoe Saldana) to get the story, the action is all in-front of her on the multiple screens.
Veronica (Ayelet Zurer) is a leader and she forces Javier (Edgar Ramirez) to participate as Enrique (Eduardo Noriega) a cop is mistaken for a plotter. The rewinding each time leaves us wanting more, what will happen next and how will all these lives intersect, who is on what side and why it is all happening.
If there is a weakness, the motivation is clouded, it could be a conspiracy to get rid of the President for his policy, but the attack is clearly carried out by terrorists. The President is also placed in too many situations where he can be attacked contrary to reality.
Questions arise as we watch the action filled thriller, but it is clearly the best action film so far this year. It could be that it's just better than the weak films of January and February - on the other hand it pulled me in and I look forward to a second viewing.