Movie Review: V Is For Vendetta. Rated B.
If You Liked The Matrix Trilogy Or The Batman Series You Will Probably Like This. Simple Stuff For Simple Minds? Maybe.
This movie is based on a graphic novel by Alan Moore. The screenplay was written by the Wachowski brothers and the film was directed by James Mc Teigue. Natalie Portman plays Evey Hammond a low level employee of a TV station. Hugo Weaving is V, a Zorro like terrorist fighting against a Nazi like autocracy and Stephen Rea plays Police Inspector Finch who investigates V and in doing so finds out the rationale for V’s vendetta.
The movie is done in a semi documentary style reminiscent of Costa Garvas or those who have followed him. The story alludes to Guy Fawkes a Catholic dissident who resisted and paid with his life in 1605 when the English Monarchy decided to establish the Church of England in place of the Roman Catholic Church for reasons of regal convenience. William Shakespeare and his parents were forced to leave the Roman Catholic Church and join the Church of England at the time. At the present time in England Fawkes’s execution is a celebrated holiday. Thus there is a rich history to be drawn on for this picture but wasn’t.
The theme of the movie is that unjust totalitarian governments are to be resisted by all means even terrorism. That’s fine but as one would expect in a movie based on a property owned by DC Comics all the social, moral and political points are in black and white although the movie is shot in color naturally. The media build up for this mediocre movie was monumental.
Natalie Portman is a young woman who is living in a not so distant England of the future. It is a dystopian place, at least on the political level since it is an authoritarian dictatorship, which persecutes gays, artists, free thinkers, those who have faith in another religion other than the state’s and other non-conformists. It has a Gestapo like thought police to enforce conformity.
John Hurt plays Adam Sutler, the Chairman, who in the first part of the picture is only seen delivering diatribes to his henchmen and underlings via video a la Adolph Hitler. V is a victim of a medical experiment conducted on dissidents that killed many but which he survived and vowed to avenge his dead compatriots and bring down the regime by all means available. This includes blowing up the Old Bailey and Parliament both symbols of justice and democracy in the real world outside this film. If you read this far you are probably are aware that there are not a lot of new ideas in this film. Needless to say this is not a subtle picture or even a rationale one. There are no shades of gray. It was really made to play to the Batman crowd but it is not technically as well done as the Batman franchise. As a comic book movie it is okay, but as a serious discussion of the morality of terrorism it is not. Why Natalie Portman Stephen Rea and John Hurt want to be in this movie is anyone’s guess unless they want to secure a place in the Wachowski Brothers constituency. I feel sorry for George Orwell who is probably resting uneasily in his grave over this film. In fact if celebrated movie makers like the Wachowski Brothers wanted to adopt anything along political lines they could have chosen something like Animal Farm or Darkness At Noon which may even be in the public domain because neither they or Alan Moore are deep political thinkers. That said the acting was well done especially Stephen Rea. Natalie Portman was good although she has been better. John Hurt was playing a caricature so he didn’t have much acting to do as did Hugo Weaving who had to play V behind a Guy Fawkes mask with a cape and a high crowned, broad brimmed hat. By now you must get the picture. Simple stuff for simple minds, yes but it also raises the issue of if terroism is ever justified. In an age where the civilized world increasingly faces asymetric warfare by guerillas or terrorists if not both then a movie that raises the public consciencnous of the problem is worth seeing.