V FOR VENDETTA
*1/2 (out of 5)
March 17, 2006
Natalie Portman as EVEY
Hugo Weaving as V
Stephen Rea as FINCH
Stephen Fry as DEITRICH
John Hurt as ADAM SUTLER
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: James McTeigue
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I have to admit that I was pretty excited to see “V for Vendetta.” The trailers made it look awesome. I mean really, really awesome. But there were some things that worried me. First, it was an early spring release instead of a summer or winter release. Supposedly this was to distance itself from recent terrorist attacks, but I think there was more to it. Even more telling was that original comic book writer Alan Moore severed his ties to the film during post production.
I’ve never read the original graphic novel, but I know Moore’s adaptations have had a rocky road, providing some of the stinkier comic book films, like “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.” Ultimately, whatever choices and changes were made were bad.
Even though the initial marketing looked great, this isn’t uncommon in movies. Making a flashy looking two-minute teaser is a lot easier than sustaining an interesting and compelling film for two hours.
The film opens retelling the story of Guy Fawkes as he tried to blow up Parliament in 1605. This opening sequence itself was a bit convoluted and unfocused, which didn’t bode well for the rest of the film. Then we flash forward to a fascist totalitarian London in 2020. A young woman named Evey (Natalie Portman) is assaulted on the street after curfew. She’s miraculously saved by the mysterious man named V (Hugo Weaving) who wears a cape and a caricature Guy Fawkes mask.
Things were looking up briefly until V launches into a ridiculous alliterative monologue using every word in the English language that starts with V. The bit got old and heavy handed after about ten seconds, and it goes on for about a minute. Sadly, this was a harbinger of things to come with this movie.
“V for Vendetta” is tedious, boring and ill-conceived. Sure, the film elements like cinematography and score are excellent, but the story plods along like an amateur student film.
With the Matrix people all over this movie, you might think it will be an action film, but it isn’t – unless you consider a lot of talking, whining and setting up dominos to be action. There are two quick scenes in the beginning book-ended with pretentious dialogue. When the final action scene happens, it’s all shown in excruciating slow motion.
I felt like I just took a batch of quaaludes when I saw it.
Trying to make a significant message “V for Vendetta” has vendetta against modern conservative politics. In the middle, things turn out to be more about the oppression of homosexuals than about politics. I would imagine a heavily fascist government would more interested in detaining and arresting radicals and subversives than someone who has a copy of the Koran or the lesbian couple living on their own.
V is painted as a freedom fighter, but he’s really an anarchist terrorist. He’s a figurehead trying to lead a revolution, but there’s no organization. Cutting the head off of a totalitarian state and leaving no one to pick up the pieces is how new dictators are established.
I know it’s based on a comic book, but even with a comic book level of disbelief suspended, there are things in the movie that are impossible to swallow. How does V maintain his massive underground hideout? How did he lay new train tracks below the streets of London? Where did he get the supplies and the money to mail a cheesy Guy Fawkes mask to everyone in London without being tracked down?
Rather than being anti-fascist, “V for Vendetta” comes off as being pro-terrorist, and that’s hard to like in this day and age. Blowing up London landmarks looks cool on the big screen, but it’s a bit unsettling in the wake of 9/11 and the recent London bombing. It’d be offensive if it weren’t so ludicrous.