It's painfully obvious what is really going on from the first few minutes of Vantage Point-- in part because the majority of the plot is covered neatly in the promotional trailers but also due to the fact that the script is just not imaginative, and the plot is quite thin overall-- meaning, the stereotypical bad guys are the bad guys; there are no twists here. Barry Levy, a former teacher who sold Vantage Point as his first screenplay, sets up a few points (such as the fact that the president used a double for his appearance and therefore didn't actually get shot) that-- if the film was allowed to play out past the course of the same two violent events over and over and over-- would actually offer interesting and unique commentary. It would have been great to see the ramifications after the realization that the public had been duped; it would have been something rooted in reality and just tongue-in-cheek enough to elicit smiles. Instead, Levy's sophomoric style keeps the audience five steps ahead of the movie at any given moment, eliminating any real reason to keep watching.
The film is full of filler, offering the same sequences from varying angles and POVs-- from Secret Service agents (Dennis Quaid and Matthew Fox) to a civilian with a video camera (Forest Whitaker) who just happens to be in the right place at the right time to capture the "truth" to an up-and-coming terrorist (Said Taghmaoui, who is really too good for that kind of typecasting). Between the repetition, the slo-mo, the rewind sequences in between POVs, and the ungodly amount of running, there is no real plot-- just a whole lot of fast motion. The script must have been only twenty pages long and therefore would have made a really clever, really innovative short... or even a web series.
Vantage Point boasts a huge cast of name talent, none of whom Travis seemed to know what to do with. Only Quaid and Whitaker have backstories, as simple as they may be, because Travis instead chooses to focus on convoluted action, muddying the importance of his wide net of supporting players and making the majority of them much more expendable than they perhaps should be. There is really nothing at stake for any of them other than "stay alive," and the few attempts at character connection or dimension-- most of which are given to Whitaker-- are too on the nose, as if Levy doesn't trust his audiences enough to read facial expressions, and Travis doesn't trust his actors to give the right ones. Levy tells when he should show; when Whitaker is alone, he mutters to himself ridiculously, unrealistically, and expositionally. There are actual, audible "Oh my Gods" spilling from these wide-eyed characters' mouths, and suddenly six-foot-tall, hulking men are reduced to melodramatic seventh grade girls. It's fitting, really, that in a film about deception, corruption, and violence, the filmmakers themselves proved to be similarly paranoid control freaks, unable to allow their actors just to do their own thing.
Far too much is by "chance" in this film, again namely with Forest Whittaker, who is the only civilian featured, and who happens to stumble onto just about everything. Dennis Quaid, too, though, just happens to have luck and timing on his side, finding pieces of the puzzle literally one after the other just dropped at his side, which is really just typical of the arc a once-fallen hero desperate to redeem himself takes in films like Vantage Point. Everything just comes too "easily." Travis is far too distracted by manufacturing suspense to focus on the huge holes and just expects his audience to be willing to suspend their disbelief enough to join him on this "convenient" journey.
Vantage Point's concept is clever, and its effort is certainly admirable, but it was just too big for these green filmmakers, and unfortunately they got caught up in the flashy style and eliminated all substance. The result, which is just laughable when it isn't intended to be a comedy, would have been much more successful if it was half its length-- and at only ninety minutes, that's certainly saying something.