|Page 6 of 16:||               |
|Index||160 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After hearing that this was one of the best car movies of all time and
being a car lover myself I decided to pick this up out of the bargain
bin at Walmart.
This movie is BAD from the start to the end. Really the only good thing about it is the 1970 Challenger. There is really no plot just a guy driving a car and getting chased by the police. If you really want to see this movie just watch the first and last 10 minutes and you'll have seen everything you need to see. Even being a car guy and in particular a Mopar fan I couldn't recommend this movie to anyone.
Now if you really want to watch a classic car movie I'd recommend "Gumball Rally" It is truly a classic.
Plot? Ha! There's this guy driving real fast. He's Kowalski and he's a bit
enigmatic. He's basically delivering a car to a customer and is trying to
it in a record time. He starts getting chased by cops and what ensues is a
hectic counter-culture road race/chase movie across the US. Think `Easy
Rider' with one man and a car.
Kowalski is naturally enigmatic. We don't know much about him and why he's taking these insane risks with his life and freedom. Gradually, over the course of the movie, we get to learn more about him through flashbacks and his interactions with the crazy kooky people he meets up. Yup, the country appears dotted with bizarre weirdoes, including naked bicycle chicks and snake capturing old men. Why? No idea, and it doesn't matter too much. This movie is a journey, with a stranger who we come to respect (although never really know), and we're along for the ride..
Acting's not up to much. Barry Newman, as Kowalski, looks the part - moody, and intense. He has very few lines, and that suits the character's obscure nature. The only real character of any other significance is Super Soul, a blind radio DJ mysteriously assisting Kowalski over the airwaves. He too is enigmatic - his motives unclear, etc. As such his acting seems to limit itself to dancing in his seat, flinging his arms about and yelling. Hmmm. In other movies that would earn my ridicule, but for some reason it works here.
The movie looks well. Yes, it's obviously rooted in early '70s counter-culture, but it has a very firm feel to it, a sense of identity (somewhat ironic, considering its meta-themes concerning the lone faceless individual). Director Richard S. Sarafian employs a variety of camera shots in the movie to keep the audience entertained throughout the choice. There's also an excellent soundtrack, which can only be labelled as `cool'. It perfectly matches the mood and temper of Kowalski. It's qualities like these that help disguise the flimsy nature of the movie.
`Vanishing Point' is `different'. It's enjoyable but alas it's also pretty substance less - pretty but with no real padding underneath. You can be driven along and admire the pretty pictures and sheer vibes it emanates, but you'll be left wanting if you seek any real depth. Still it's better than the over-rated `Easy Rider'. 7/10.
I can remember reading a review for "VP" when it was released that said
something to the effect of "I wouldn't want to be driving down the
street of a drive-in movie after this ends and the kids in their cars
are leaving" Being 16 years old at the time-the reviewer was absolutely
correct. VP packed them in at the drive-ins, this was still the era of
big engines and cheap gas. In a few years the Arab oil embargo, sky
rocketing insurance rates, and pollution regulations would cripple the
Detroit's muscle car industry, but Hollywood in the early 70's still
made car chase movies like "VP," "Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry" and "Smoky &
the Bandit" in the tradition of Bob Mitchum's 1950's epic, "Thunder
Road" that featured about 90 minutes of car chases weaved through a
thin plot line.
VP has a minuscule plot that logic totally escapes any logic:
1) Kowalski is supposed to be driving this Dodge Challenger from Denver to SF for a car delivery service, presumably to someone who will take possession of a muscle car in mint condition. Kowalski completely drives the complete crap out of it, on and off road.
2) Kowalski leaves Denver around midnight, but we see him driving in daylight along the breathtaking stretch of I-70 adjacent to the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs, which is only 156 mi. from Denver. Where has Kowalski been all evening? (come to think of it, the only time we see him drive at night is leaving Denver)
3) We only see him stop once for gasoline. I would imagine that the 440 Magnum Dodge engine being driven at 120 mph might get 8mpg. So with a 20 gallon tank Kowalski is going to have to stop at least every hour & half. Speaking of which, why don't the police, instead of chasing him with cars, choppers and setting up roadblocks, just wait for him at the few gas stations that are few and far between in the remote sections of Ut & Nv?
4) the AM radio station, KOW that has the DJ "Supersoul" that aids Kowalski looks like it is in a tiny town in western Nv, I would guess 100 watts, yet Kowalski is able to pick this station up quite clearly all the way from Colorado.
Enough logic. great car chases. hot looking naked chick on a motorcycle shows up later for no reason. not a bad way to spend 90 minutes.
Released in 1971, "Vanishing Point" stars Barry Newman as Kowalski, a
pill-popping former racer and police officer, who bets that he can
deliver a supercharged car from Denver to San Francisco in 15 hours.
The police in four states try to apprehend him as a DJ (Cleavon Little)
supports him on the airwaves. Dean Jagger plays a geezer Kowalski runs
into in the desert.
This is a cult flick about the adventures of a rebel without a cause. While it has similarities to 1969's "Easy Rider," it's not as compelling and the subtext isn't as good (see my review of "Easy Rider").
The story is a big middle finger to what was called "the establishment" at a time when the Vietnam War was making a wreck of America's social cohesion. Kowalski was part of that establishment when he was a cop, but became disillusioned after he exposed corruption and was punished for it, but heralded by the counterculture. Kowalski had seen the underbelly of the "pig" and didn't want to be part of it. At the beginning he drives off the road and you see him looking at some derelict vehicles. He increasingly realizes HE is a derelict on the side of the road with nowhere to go. What better next stop than oblivion? The climax is his *beep* off moment to go out on HIS terms. Three years later "Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry" sorta ripped it off. While that movie lacks the interesting (and ambiguous) subtext of "Vanishing Point," it's a more compelling watch. Despite the many car chases, "Vanishing Point" is surreal and even languid, embellished by a listless score (e.g the opening) and acid rock tracks throughout; while I don't like the former, most of the latter tracks are good and fit the ambiance of the movie.
Then there's the naked blond on the motorcycle sequence. Someone incredulously asked: "How could he possibly turn down a sexy naked blonde? What's his problem?!" I guess sexiness is in the eye of the beholder because I didn't find her all that sexy. Sure, she has a pretty face, but her body is nearly as un-curvy as a 12 year-old girl. But some guys prefer thinner women and that's cool; to each his own. In addition, Kowalski was still grieving over his true love. Moreover, the naked blond didn't play the game of seduction, which takes time and imagination. Instead she prematurely throws her entire hand on the table and it simply doesn't turn Kowalski on. Lastly, despite it being the "free love" era (1970), Kowalski was much older (and arguably nobler) than the average hippie; as such, he didn't feel it proper to take advantage of the mate of the guy who was selflessly helping him (at least not without his clear permission).
The movie runs 99 minutes and was shot in Colorado, Utah, Nevada and Arizona.
COMMENTARY ON THE MEANING ***SPOILER ALERT*** (Don't read further unless you've seen the movie)
In an interview Barry Newman very seriously explained Kowalski's actions at the end: "He thought he could make it through; and that was the reason for the smile just prior to the impact." I don't question this since the actor himself would have more insights about the movie than the viewer, but even his answer is ambiguous. It could mean (and probably does) that Kowalski thought he could make it through to the other side, i.e. leave the physical plane for the spiritual one and the (possible) freedom thereof. After all, he sees "the light" between the blades of the bulldozers while approaching. Keep in mind that Kowalski was hopped up on a lot of drugs. As such, he doesn't commit suicide in the sense he wants to die, but rather kills himself in the accident because he BELIEVES he'll make it through; physically or spiritually, it doesn't matter. He believed.
With a lot of nice landscape scenery.But the movie is rather poorly put
together,but you can see where Walter hill got his radio idea to the
This is a road movie if I ever seen one.Not sure if it's the first nor the greatest,but a road movie none the less. But cause of the way its put together, it's sadly only mildly entertaining. I dunno if the importance of the backstory on kowalski ended on the cutting room floor, or it was put together this way on purpose.
But The back story comes in minor flashback sequences, and I think they are suppose to be relevant in terms of getting to know the background of our antihero.For me it just doesn't work,cause they have skipped too much on how he got be where he is, when you meet him.
Some of the scenes in the movie are really confusing at times. For instance when he could have avoided a roadblock by simply going around them,he flee from them instead.While other times he simply do just that,drive around them And you never know why it was so important to get the car to Sand Francisco.
There are a lot of hinting or implying that girls he meet have some sort of connection to he's past,but they never really clarify it.Is it just that they remind him of someone he once had a connection with,or are they the girls from the past he sees in he's flashback?
To be honest, I never came across this flick until a friend of my
dropped in a few weeks ago telling me to see this flick if you do love
muscle cars because the main lead is a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T. Do
loving muscle cars I thought to give it a try but after a few minutes I
knew that this was a must see.
Just watch how this was shot and just listen to the music, only that makes it worth watching. The story itself isn't really that important. Bring a car from point A to B. We do learn a bit about the driver Kowalski (Barry Newman) and his past but it's really the car that makes the movie. Naturally being made early 70's it were the heydays of the muscle cars and you will see a lot of them. Maybe one reason that this flick isn't that much spoken of is the fact that it doesn't include a Ford Mustang but don't worry, the sound and power of the Dodge will deliver.
What you see throughout this flick are teams that can't be done nowadays. The racism used towards the end is what really happened back then but nowadays you watch it with open mouth. But it was also the moment of the hippies and free sex and you will see nudity here and there. Naturally drugs are involved too. It will remind you of the other classic Easy Rider (1969) only here we don't have that much of deep story.
It shows America as it was back then. I've seen it on restored Blu Ray and it looked stunning with excellent 5.1, you can here the car all over your room. This is pure cult and did stand time, only to wish for that those cars were still here with all their character and sound in stead of the trash being made nowadays.
Gore 0/5 Nudity 1/5 Effects 0/5 Story 3/5 Comedy 0/5
Very good, and surprisingly so. I only watched this because it gets
many reverential references in Quentin Tarantino's "Death Proof".
Expected it to be nothing more than a revhead movie, but it is far
better than that.
More like Easy Rider on four wheels. A movie about freedom and individuality.
Good script, but it is the direction and the setting that makes this movie great. Richard Sarafian sketches Kowalski's character through flashbacks and delivered information, showing you why he is doing what he is doing. The ending is perfect.
Barry Newman hardly had much dialogue, but in playing Kowalski he defined anti-authoritarian freedom-loving figures forever.
Wow what a ride! Kowalski is the man with the iron car and iron will.
The enormous motor that resides under the hood is a in a way a metaphor
for the antagonist raw-powered will to make it, no matter what. You
also get hints of his past which is filled with "living on the edge"
And the scenery is haunting... makes you wanna jump into a car and just ride for as long as you endure.
A great social study also which shines light on the madness of people trying to uphold laws, when it clearly brings more violence then it does create peace. Also a good look into the culture of that time.
A notice on the black and white car that passes each other in the beginning, Kowalski riding both cars...maybe a hint to mans splintered mind, the dark versus light within us all, which we like to ignore... but is still there haunting us every day. Still it's a choice in which car we decide to ride.
The Movie Makes a Number of Points that were Often Made in Essential,
Thinking Person's Movies of the Late Sixties into the Early Seventies.
Thoughts about the Counter Culture, the Vietnam War, Drugs, Nudity, and
the Difficult Existence of an Anti Establishment Entity Trying to
Survive in a Conservative Society.
This is a Muscle Car Movie for the Cerebral Type. The Cross Country Chase and the Driving are Intercut with the Anti-Hero's Encounters with Various Characters on the Edge. This does Nothing to Take Away from the Hook of the Movie that is the Car, the Driver, and the Pursuit.
The Weakest Part is the Overly Obnoxious African-American DJ who is Placed in a Country and Western Town with His Radio Rap of Soul Fired Frenzy. Like the Driver, He is a Fish Out of Water. But the Connection, both Psychic and on the Radio with Barry Newman's Kowalski is just too Obvious and Contrived for it to Amount to Much and there is Quite a bit of it.
Overall, this Cult Movie Deserves its Reputation. A Great Looking and Edited, Movie with an Appropriate and Sometimes Very Effective Soundtrack make this Low-Budget Winner an Artifact of its Time that Comfortably can be Placed with the Other Iconic Films from the Counter Culture of the Era Displaying the Zeitgeist with some Intelligence, Creativity, and Style.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'll admit I wasn't sure quite what to make of this one when I first
saw it. I had to view it more than once, and other user reviews
actually gave me some insight (thanks everybody). What drew me to
Vanishing Point in the first place was that it was a road flick
featuring a fast car..and I LOVE movies with fast cars.
The premise at the beginning seems simple enough. Kowalski (Barry Newman) is a speed freak (as in drugs AND driving) who makes his living delivering cars. He's just arrived back in Denver, to the place that employs him, after a delivery, and wants to head right back out on the road again to deliver a Dodge Challenger to San Francisco. His boss pleads with him to get some rest, as does his drug dealer, but Kowalski is determined. He bets his dealer the price of the speed he just bought that he can deliver the car in 15 hours (I figured it up..he would have to average 84.5 MPH with NO stops if he drove in a straight line).
Where the movie gets interesting..and disturbing..is when it gets into WHY Kowalski is so determined to go on this ride. While he's tearing down the roadway in that waaay cool white Challenger, with police hot on his tail, we see flashes of his past, including his time as a war hero in Vietnam, his stint as a police officer who stops his partner from raping a teenage girl they'd picked up; also we see that for a time he raced cars and motorcycles (crashing more than once), and he even spent a period of time as a hippie/counterculture type (where he watched his girlfriend drown in the ocean).
Two dynamics emerge: First, and this was brought up in another review, Kowalski is a guy who couldn't fit in anywhere, be it the "establishment" or the "counterculture." Second, and more important, in the flashbacks we see one bad thing after another happen to him, regardless of what he was doing or who he was with. This is what his life has come down to, and it's as if this pedal-to-the-metal trip to SF, come hell or high water, is all he has left.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the other main player in this, a blind disc jockey who goes by "Super Soul" (Cleavon Little in what may be the finest performance of his career). Super Soul feels an instant connection with Kowalski..calling him "the last American hero" as he races from police on his trek. In between songs he talks to Kowalski over the airwaves as if he can sense what the doomed driver is thinking. In the midst of this a bunch of redneck bullies break into the radio station and give Super Soul a horrific beating, and the movie doesn't really explain why. Maybe it's because they didn't like what Kowalski was doing and Super Soul being sympathetic to him, aggravated by the fact that they already hated Super Soul because he was black.
This movie has been compared, erroneously in my opinion, to Easy Rider. Whereas the latter is clearly a movie centering on the 60s counterculture, Vanishing Point is a character study, both of Kowalski and Super Soul, two misfits..yet both honorable and decent men(perhaps that's what makes them misfits)..who seem doomed to never really belong anywhere. It's also a sort of requiem for the days gone by for fast cars and open roads in America. This is not a pleasant movie..it's dark, depressing and surreal..but interesting. And Kowalski drives one VERY cool..and fast..car.
|Page 6 of 16:||               |
|Plot summary||Plot synopsis||Ratings|
|External reviews||Parents Guide||Plot keywords|
|Main details||Your user reviews||Your vote history|