“VANTAGE POINT” (2008) Review


“VANTAGE POINT” (2008) Review

“VANTAGE POINT” is a tightly woven thriller about eight strangers with eight different points of view of an assassination attempt on the President of the United States, during an anti-terrorism summit in Salamanca, Spain. Directed by Pete Travis and written by Barry Levy, the movie starred Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver and William Hurt.

When I had first saw the trailer for “VANTAGE POINT” four years ago, I had assumed it would be one of those remakes of the Japanese film, “RASHOMON” (1950). I figured there would be an assassination attempt on the President and the film would follow with various points of view on the incident. This is what actually happened in “VANTAGE POINT” . . . but not quite.“VANTAGE POINT” did reveal the assassination attempt from various points of view. In “RASHOMON” and other versions of the film, those views are shown as flashbacks. But in “VANTAGE POINT” each point of view is not a flashback. Instead, each POV merely gives a certain view of the story, while the story moves forward. For example, the movie started out with the point of view of a news producer (Sigourney Weaver), before ending at a particular point in the story. The next point of view belongs to Secret Service agent Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid), which ends a little further in the story than the news producer’s POV. And so on. The movie ends with an exciting action sequence told from the various viewpoints of the major characters – heroes and villains.

The more I think about “VANTAGE POINT”, the more I realize how much I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the tight setting of Salamanca, Spain (actually the film was shot in Mexico). I must add that one of the things I enjoyed about this movie was that Levy’s script had a way of putting a twist on any assumptions anyone might form about the plot. I loved how Travis handled the film’s action, making it well-paced. I enjoyed the performances of the major cast members. I was especially impressed by the performances of Dennis Quaid as the emotionally uncertain Barnes, who eventually pieced together the real plot. I also enjoyed the performances of Matthew Fox as his fellow Secret Service agent, Forest Whitaker as an American tourist and Edgar Ramirez (“THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM”) as a Spanish Special Forces soldier involved in the plot against the President. But more importantly, I loved Barry Levy’s script, which put a twist on any assumptions the moviegoer may have formed about the story’s plotlines and characters. My only quibble with “VANTAGE POINT” was the interaction between Whitaker’s character and a Spanish girl, which I found slightly contrived near the end of the movie.

“VANTAGE POINT” did pretty well at the box office. Unfortunately, most critics compared it unfavorably to “RASHOMON”. Personally, I do care about the critics’ opinion. “VANTAGE POINT” was the type of movie that forced the audience to think. And I suspect that many moviegoers and critics would have preferred a film that laid everything out in the open. And since I have a history of liking movies that are not popular with the public or film critics, all I can say is that I am personally glad that I had purchased the DVD for this movie. It ended up becoming one of my favorite 2008 movies.



“LOST” Fans Illusions About Kate Austen




I just discovered that six years after ABC’s “LOST” left the air, many fans are still harboring illusions about the Kate Austen character.  Why?  Because she was portrayed by Evangeline Lilly, the show’s leading lady?  Did Kate being the leading female character was a reason why so many made excuses for her mistakes and crimes?

What exactly did Kate do?  Well . . . let’s see:

*Murdered her stepfather Wayne Jensen, when she discovered that he was her real father.  Apparently, she could not deal with the reality that she shared blood with him.

*In order to murder Wayne, she blew up his house, which also belonged to her mother, Diane Jensen.

*Kate dragged her mother into a false insurance claim over the destroyed house, so that Diane could profit from it and she could pretend to herself that she had murdered Wayne to protect her mother from his drunken abuse.

*Recruited former boyfriend Tom Brennan to help her gain access to Diane, while the latter was in the hospital and she was a fugitive.  This led him to be shot and killed by the police, while Kate was trying to make her escape from the hospital.

*Planned a bank robbery in New Mexico that endangered the lives of innocent employees and customers, so that she could gain access to the suitcase left behind by U.S. Marshal Edward Mars, which contained a toy airplane that Tom had given to her when they were kids.

*Married a cop named Kevin Callis, using a false identity.  When she thought she might be pregnant, she panicked, drugged Kevin and went on the run again.

*While on the island, she tried to manipulate and trick both Jack Shephard and James “Sawyer” Ford into giving her Marshal Mars’ suitcase, which she and Sawyer found, while swimming in a lagoon.

*She gave Sun Kwon the idea to poison the latter’s husband, Jin Kwon, so that he would remain on the island and not join Michael Dawson’s attempt to leave.  Kate did this, because she wanted a spot on Michael’s raft in order to leave herself.

*Convinced Jack to create a story that she was Aaron Littleton’s mother, so that she could use the infant as an emotional comforter, following the trauma they had faced leaving the island . . .and not bother making any effort to find any of Aaron’s living relatives.

*Met Carole Littleton (Aaron’s grandmother) at the funeral of Christian Shephard, six months after returning to the States and never told the latter than she was a grandmother.  Kate kept Aaron away from his grandmother for another two-and-a-half years, before she finally had the decency to finally hand the toddler over to his true guardian.

I noticed during the series’ run that Kate had a habit of resorting to violence (physical or verbal) whenever someone shatters her illusions.  She had resorted to anger when both Jack and fellow castaway John Locke tried to tell her that they all needed to return to the island.  She had resorted to physical abuse when former member of the Others, Juliet Burke, revealed that Jack had seen her have sex with Sawyer.  And she did the same to Sawyer, when he accused her of using him for sex, whenever she had relationship problems with Jack.

Many fans have accused Kate’s parents of being monsters.  Wayne Jensen was a drunk and wife abuser.  Well . . . this is true.  They also accused Diane Jensen of being a terrible mother by preferring Wayne over her daughter.  Diane was merely guilty of having bad taste in men, preferring the alcoholic Wayne over her upstanding Army sergeant husband, Sam Austen.  Otherwise, she was a pretty decent mother.  Yes, she did expose Kate’s murder of Wayne to the police.  But Kate had murdered him . . . her husband.  When Kate tried to claim that she was trying to save Diane from Wayne’s abuse, the latter made it clear that she knew Kate was lying.  Kate’s soliloquy in (2.09) “What Kate Did” confirmed that she was not even thinking of her mother when she murdered Wayne.  And Sergeant Austen was not that surprised that Kate had murdered Wayne.  He figured she would do it once she learned that Wayne was her real father, she would kill the latter.

Yes, Kate was not perfect.  Yes, Kate made mistakes and committed crimes.  Yes, many other “LOST” characters were guilty of mistakes and crimes.  But why did so many fans make excuses for her lapses in morality?  Not only did they make excuses for her murder of Wayne Jensen, they also made excuses for her kidnapping of Aaron Littleton, upon leaving the island for the first time.  Yes, Kate had kidnapped Aaron.  And Jack Shephard, along with Sun Kwon, Sayid Jarrah and Hugo “Hurley” Reyes were accessories to her crime.  Both (5.11) “Whatever Happened, Happened” and (6.13) “The Last Recruit” made it clear that Kate had pretended to be Aaron’s blood mother for selfish reasons.  Yet, some people are still claiming that she had merely “adopted” Aaron.

As I had earlier stated, it has been six years since “LOST” went off the air.  And although there are some fans who are willing to openly admit that Kate had made mistakes and committed crimes, I have noticed that other fans – many of them, as a matter of fact – still continue to make excuses for her.  Only one other “LOST” character has received such a large amount of excuses and that is “Sawyer” Ford.  And I do not know whether to find this pathetic, funny or both.