If you've ever had the chance to play with the "angle" button on your DVD player using a disc that offers multiple points-of-view, then you will immediately understand the concept behind Vantage Point.
The US President (William Hurt) is in Spain to attend a landmark summit with the hopes of somehow bringing an end to terrorism. Thousands of spectators occupying the square make the occasion a security nightmare -- especially when gunshots break out shortly after the mayor of the city introduces the leader.
From our view in the broadcast truck covering the event, we see the President get hit and bowled over. Secret Service agent Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid), who has only recently been reinstated after taking a bullet for the Chief a year earlier, rushes across the stage and tackles Enrique (Eduardo Noriega), a badge-wearing man claiming to be a local undercover cop in charge of protecting the mayor. As the scene quickly degrades into mayhem a bomb explodes creating a war zone with bloodied bodies and injured people everywhere.
All of a sudden the film rewinds, and we (the audience) repeat the entire sequence again -- only this time from the perspective of Thomas. After the President drops and the bomb detonates, we return to those few seconds before noon and watch the scene unfold once more through the eyes of Enrique. Then another five times thanks to footage captured by Howard Lewis (Forest Whitaker), a camera-happy US tourist with a new high definition video camera, and several other witnesses.
With each replay, different pieces of the puzzle are revealed helping us piece together the circumstances leading up to the deadly tragedy. The final picture is a surprisingly captivating, edge-of-your-seat experience.
Although the initial shock of the assassination lessens with each rewind-and-repeat, the violence still pushes the limits of the US PG-13 rating the film received from the Motion Picture Association of America. Along with the aforementioned depictions, various viewpoints following the aftermath contain portrayals of at least a dozen people being shot on screen (blood is shown) and others losing their lives in a blast by a suicide bomber. An extended, intense car chase through the narrow city streets implies many more innocent bystanders are killed or injured from resulting brutal collisions.
Language is a concern as well, with the script including a variety of moderate and mild profanities and the single use of a sexual expletive. Fortunately, sexual content is comprised only of a brief conversation between a man and woman referring to their relationship.
Parents considering sharing this film with their older teens may also want to address the ethics of what is fast becoming a new entertainment genre: Action terrorism. Beginning as documentation of the terror attacks on America in 2001 (United 93 and World Trade Center), movies are now venturing into speculative fiction. While this production can claim to be a Vantage Point from eight new angles, there is still the overriding issue of obtaining thrills from real-world tragedies.