Vanishing Point (1971) - Rotten Tomatoes

Vanishing Point1971

Vanishing Point (1971)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Vanishing Point Photos

Movie Info

In this film, amphetamine-popping Kowalski (Barry Newman) attempts to drive a race car from Denver to San Francisco in order to win a bet. As the police become informed of his crazy endeavor, Kowalski struggles to avoid the cops with the help of a blind radio disco jockey who calls himself Super Soul (Cleavon Little).


Charlotte Rampling
as Hitchhiker (UK version)
John Amos
as Super Soul's radio engineer
Anthony James
as First male hitchhiker
Arthur Malet
as Second male hitchhiker
Cherie Foster
as 1st Girl
Delaney & Bonnie & Friends
as J Hovah's Singers
View All

Critic Reviews for Vanishing Point

All Critics (19) | Top Critics (6)

The film does whip up a genuine excitement and suspense. The director, Richard C. Sarafian, masterminds some gripping chase sequences, making good use of unknown actors and amateurs and a musical score that fits en route.

June 8, 2020 | Full Review…

The action is almost entirely made up of one man driving a car at maximum speed from Denver to, hopefully, San Francisco.

May 6, 2008 | Full Review…

In a time when vacant retreads such as The Fast and the Furious are the problem, Vanishing Point is the answer.

August 14, 2007 | Rating: 3.5/4

The woodenness of both direction and Newman's performance becomes increasingly apparent.

January 26, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

A movie about which I can think of almost nothing good to say.

May 9, 2005 | Rating: 1.5/5 | Full Review…

Takes full advantage of the subject's existential and mythical undertones without being pretentious, and you certainly get a run for your money, along with a lot of rock music.

January 1, 2000

Audience Reviews for Vanishing Point

One of the most awesome and greatest films I ever saw! Fresh.

Lucas Martins
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

For a film whose entire premise is the fact that some driver on drugs has been given a bet to drive a car across a couple of US states it's surprisingly entertaining. And whilst the background of the main anti-hero Kowalski screams cliche and a lack of belonging in a world that just doesn't get him, you know, the film's director pulls off a surprisingly impressive portrayal and leaves you rooting for the guy to complete his futile drive, which is, in a way what the whole film is about. Let's be honest here, 'Vanishing Point', despite its existential consideration of life and the injustice of the world, is not a masterpiece. But it does convey the various themes its set out to convey well, despite some dodgy flashbacks and acting from Barry Newman who carries the whole thing. Kowalski's odd encounters with random strangers as he drives along slowly gains him the status of an anti-establishment hero and the support of the public and the really over the top but genuinely cool DJ, who helps him out. It's a difficult way of telling the audience what the film is about but that's part of the point. As Kowalski searches for a message or purpose to his existence he realises there isn't one. Then comes his existential fuel for the film's 90 minute long car chase as his pursuit from the police becomes the meaning his life lacked. Yet regardless of the thematic bulk of the film the real enjoyment is gained from watching Kowalski drive his car, usually with police hot on his tail. I'm not much of a car person but I can understand the appeal of a Dodge Challenger. Although the film screams late 60s early 70s American counter-culture it draws parallels with earlier 1950s films about outlaws in the American west. Newman plays this modern day hero well, a nihilist for much of the time he is onscreen, alienated from a mainstream society which is closing in on him. The cinematography and images of the beautiful barren desert are striking and the music which accompanies the hero as he attempts to fulfil his mission is excellent. If it wasn't for these things the film would, I fear, be a tad boring. There's only so many times a man looking directly ahead at a road from within a car can be found interesting and despite a provision of interesting characters, snake catcher, hippies, gay stickup men and naked women on motorbikes, it's the car chase which makes the film what it is. It's far from perfect but 'Vanishing Point' is a nice little cult piece from the 1970s which deserves far more attention that it gets. It avoids stuffing the theme and meaning down the audience's collective throats whilst setting up an excellent series of car chase set pieces and delivering a film, which despite its numerous flaws, is very entertaining.

Adam Kelly
Adam Kelly

Super Reviewer


In the history of cinema there have been many standout car chase films. Some have been great and others lacked in real excitement. Vanishing Point is one of the best car films ever made, after Bullitt; this film redefined the car chase genre and gave cinema enthusiasts something truly exhilarating to watch. The film boasts some truly intense action scenes and an interesting plot. However, if you go into this film expecting a great plot and great acting, you'll be disappointed. The performances are good, but the standout is the chase sequences that are brilliantly constructed and are truly entertaining. If you want some authentic chase scenes, without the use of CGI and other computer gimmicks, then give this film a shot as it relies only on the talented drivers to create the chases and it pays off. The directing is terrific as well, and the pace of the film moves very fast. Vanishing Point is far from perfect, but in the end, it's mindless fun, and if that's what you're looking for, and then definitely check this one out. I first heard of this by viewing Quentin Tarantino's action horror thriller Death Proof, and my curiosity was peaked. Tarantino has a knack to recommend films by including references in his films, and he definitely brought this one to light. Vanishing Point has one awesome car, a 1970 Dodge Challenger, which for me, anyways is the real star of the film. Director Richard C. Sarafian directions is wonderful, and each car chase is adrenaline inducing and hard to keep your eyes off. However despite all the great chases, I feel that the film's weakest aspect is its plot. Though good, it could have been much better too. Despite its flaws, this is a classic action film worth seeing if you love genuine car chases and good action. If you enjoyed this one, definitely give the 1968 film Bulitt a look as well.

Alex roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer

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