Vanishing Point (TV Movie 1997) Poster

(1997 TV Movie)

User Reviews

Add a Review
40 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
I think they missed the entire point of the original.
drewdane28 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Oh, dear lord.... They've turned what was a fairly thought provoking movie into a swaggering testosterone fest.

The original 1971 version of this movie was beautifully vague about our hero Kowalski. He was a man trying to drive from Denver to San Fransisco to win a bet. Why was he willing to risk his life for the price of a handful of uppers? We're not really sure.

We had a few flashbacks that gave us the picture that he was an adrenaline junkie, and presumably he had led his entire life trying to make it to the vanishing point. That point you see off in the distance where the left and right shoulders of the road come together, and the road itself vanishes. He lives only to be free, and means no ill on anyone. We saw several times when there were accidents he stopped to make sure the other driver was okay before moving on, even the cops that were chasing him.

When he saw the futility of his quest he took his life rather than be arrested and live a life of captivity. He died like he lived, running wide open.

In the remake Kowalski has a whole history (including a first name, even.) He's trying to get to the hospital where his wife is suffering from complications to her pregnancy. He is a devoted husband, and excited expectant father. He comes to the decision to take his life after hearing his wife died in delivery, but they even leave THAT in question when they suggest that he may have jumped out of the car before it ran into the bulldozers. They even gave the part of "super soul," the blind DJ (brilliantly portrayed by Clevon Little in the original) to JASON PRIESTLY?!?!?!?!?!? Give me a break.
20 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Utterly forgettable, utterly pointless, utterly insipid, utterly dull
roarshock9 March 2003
What made the original Vanishing Point a classic was that everyone was free to read their own meaning into it... or read no meaning at all and just watch the Challenger roar through the desert. What motivates Kowalski? Decipher it from his actions and flashbacks, or just ignore the question entirely. The film is still magnificent either way.

But the studio thought this uncertainty made it too esoteric back in 1971, so it was cut and given a limited release in the expectation of a quick death. But far from vanishing, the original Vanishing Point became recognized as one the GREAT road movies of all time.

This remake shows that Hollywood hasn't changed much. They love remaking a classic (hopefully guaranteeing an audience), but they still think that everything needs to be made both very obvious and very very simple. So they get rid of all the classic elements and turn it into a generic chase movie. They give Kowalski a really REALLY simple, obvious reason for his drive, making his flashbacks and encounters purely superfluous. And being superfluous they are populated with trite two dimensional caricatures... boring fluff that could be disposed of without diminishing this movie at all, slight though it is. This is entirely unlike the original which had interesting, unusual people that added to the story and gave context to the nature and character of Kowalski.

And that clunky, mass market mysticism thrown into the remake? ANY film is better off without that!!!

They also decided to make a federal case out of Kowalski's run... literally. It's not enough that state cops will naturally chase people who run from them (as in the original, and assign a symbolic meaning - or not - to that if you wish). In the remake they pound you again and again with a clumsy blunt-object polemic about the government and militias, with the FBI, ATF etc ultimately all ganging up on Kowalski.

The people who spawned this remake obviously read their own meanings into the original... that's the quality it has that makes it great. But instead of opening up any meanings we might find in their new version for us to discover ourselves, they forced on us that single reading of theirs alone. Unfortunately, that one narrow focus vastly shrank the appeal of the remake to something less than a vanishing point. The end result wasn't worth the wasting of either the Charger or the Challenger, let alone the both of them.
37 out of 46 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Proves that someone in Hollywood has a screw loose
bux2 March 2003
Why would anyone in their right mind want to re-make "Night of the Hunter"(1955), "From Here to Eternity"(1953), or "Vanishing Point"(1971)?

And if they felt compelled to remake one of these timeless classics, why would they go out of their way to make it some damn hokey?

There is none of the high energy music, devil-may-care attitude of the original in this tepid film about a guy trying to be at his wife's bedside during a difficult child-birth.

The original was about SPEED. Kowalski was running because of a bet over a handful of Speed. Speed was the essence and the ultimate high in the original. No big motives. No pre-chewed, silly little plot. And no Christian first name-"Jimmy" fer cryin' out loud!

This one is enough to make Paul Koslo (the ORIGINAL young cop) wanna break heads again.
43 out of 55 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
You think it couldn't be this bad, but...
Wizard-84 September 1999
I love the original movie. I knew that the remake couldn't possibly be that good, and that they would make some changes to the story. Still, I thought they would at least capture some of the atmosphere of the original. Uh-uh. They screw up in every turn (for starters, giving the hero a REASON for racing so fast!)! None of the characters are likable, the action is lame, and the ending is mind-boggling awful and manipulative. You should be ashamed of yourself, 20th-Century-Fox!
33 out of 43 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Watch the original..
connorarroyo-122 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This movie represents the times it was made in as much as the original, i suppose. Which is really sad, because at a deeper level, the title 'Vanishing Point' the original, is so ironic. I'm sure it wasn't intended that way, but the original was filmed in 1970, and released in 1971. The REAL 'VANISHING POINT' was the end of an era, which pretty much ended in the early 1970s.

In this remake, all the counter-cultural elements have been stripped away, and been rendered more PC in an attempt to reach a broader audience, presumably. "Sanitized for your Protection"

Inserting the American Indian scenes was gratuitous, and the idea of a 'noble purpose' to the trip was subtraction by addition. I'm glad I watched it however, it made me appreciate the original that much more. The original is a cult classic and golden. This remake is dreadful.
6 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Great car, bad movie...
vektron-17 May 2001
A film that shouldn't have been made. If you've seen the original 1971 movie you'll know what I'm talking about. The atmosphere is gone, the story which tries to explain everything totally demystifies the film. I won't lose a word on the soundtrack ;) And Viggo Mortensen isn't half as cool as Barry Newman. The only reason to watch this movie is the white Challenger. Only that lovely Challenger :)
9 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Did Somebody's Nephew Adapt This???
masercot13 October 2005
Yuck! And again I say...YUCK! The original version of this movie was a well directed story of a man who was already dead and driving through purgatory. The original movie had a lot to say and didn't go out of its way to say it. And, it had a naked chick on a motorcycle.

This version strikes me as something that a producer bought the rights to and then abandoned out of disinterest. It looks as if a group of individuals consciously decided to fit it to the nineties and changed ethnicities and genders just to be cute. The movie is not about a burnout about to commit suicide in a last act of defiance. It is about a man trying to get to a hospital to see his wife.

There was no reason for this movie to have been made other than to make me angry...
28 out of 43 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Just horrible
Paul-30821 January 2003
Watching this movie on TV was just painful.A sham that fed off the legendary film from 1970 that bears the same title.The 1970 Challenger is there (albeit a Hemi this time,and with sport mirrors and quick fill gas cap...not in the 1970 movie)and a lead character named Kowalski but not much else.Lousy acting that was only offset by some fast action chase sequences,and a 1968 Charger named "beast".Implausable getaways,finding a 426 Hemi oilpan in a junkyard (sure....right),and a ridiculous crash at the end (180 mph into dozers and no dents on the "crash" car).Jason Priestly acted like an idiot with an accent (as opposed to Cleavon Little's excellent "hip" portrayal in 1970).His radio station manager was kinda cute but there wasnt much else.....although it was TVs first real glimpse of "La Femme Nikita's" Peta Wilson out in the desert.I dont know whatever happened to Barry Newman's (1970 Kowalski) plans to remake VP before this travesty (he was planning to buy the movie rights and do a back story into Kowalski's past life),but you can bet he has now washed his hands of any further VP comebacks thanks to FOXs coffin-nailing finale to the cult classic.Hopefully they wont ever release this on VHS/DVD.If you missed it,thank your lucky stars you did.
11 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
They're right...this guy was no hero.
James Prine30 March 2003
Much has said about the wonderful, original "Vanishing Point"; I finally got to see the TV remake of the 1970 classic...and it was a shame. The original had Barry Newman, who somehow had the unique talent to come across as a guy who'd 'been there and done that'...and survived it all with wit, humor, and integrity as well as fantastic driving skills.

The bozo in this tepid rehash looks like he'd be out of his weight battling a soggy airmail envelope. Most of the time, while driving, he looks as if he's a 12-year-old punk out joyriding his older brother's car...and about to lose control of it, at that.

Even the little technical details were goofy beyond reason. "Jimmy" Kowalski managed to buy a police radio scanner, and somehow it doesn't need an antenna to receive signals. Better yet, since it's a crystal-controlled radio, 'magic crystals' cut for the correct radio frequencies used by cops in FOUR STATES somehow magically install themselves during the asphalt festivities. Better yet, the radio doesn't even stop scanning when a transmission is received!!!

Kowalski was supposed to be a former Army Ranger, and at one point he's in uniform, in front of a Captain who's dressing him down for his being an 'individual'. He's wearing a pair of army jump-wings, which means he's an Airborne Ranger (I guess), but no Combat Infantry Badge, despite being a decorated combat veteran. Interesting.

In short, the numerous flaws of this movie far outweigh its virtues.

On the other hand, the southwestern U.S. looked as lovely as it does in real life. Some nice footage of the area's scenic beauty was most welcome.

They made the point...several times...during this flick that Kowalski wasn't a hero...just an 'ordinary guy' involved in 'extraordinary events'. Well, the REAL Kowalski (Newman) in the original was an extraordinary guy performing extraordinary feats. The big mistake here was trying to give us too much backstory on the mysterious and intrepid Mr. K, instead of letting us fill in the details ourselves.

If you want to see a true American classic...a unique snapshot of early 1970s America, as it were, stay away from this T.V. travesty and watch the original instead.
19 out of 29 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
jmorrison-216 June 2005
This is just plain bad. Sometimes remakes, even if they stray from the original, are good on their own. They can bring another viewpoint and achieve a certain interpretation that makes them unique and enjoyable. This was as poorly thought out and carried out as can be. This wasn't any good even standing on it's own. Viggo Mortenson is a top-notch actor, but some of his selections of roles and projects leaves something to be desired. The original "Vanishing Point" was such a thrilling, psychological adventure; this is not an adventure at all, and is not enjoyable or entertaining whatsoever. This was made from a by-the-numbers approach to film-making, stuffing in plot points that someone in Hollywood believes will please what they see as today's film-going audience. Basically, they see us as a bunch of idiots. It's insulting that someone will put this out as a feature film, and even attempt to remake a cult classic this sloppily. The manipulative plot devices, the "make-it-obvious-so-they-don't-miss-the-point" aspects, ridiculous dialogue, stereotyped characters, amateurish direction...

This is plain bad....
12 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews