movie review: v for vendetta

V for Vendetta
Originally uploaded by Cinencuentro.

I have to admit that I had to do a Wikipedia search for Guy Fawkes after watching Warner Bros. V for Vendetta. Fawkes was a British man who was arrested in the attempt to blow up British parliament. The title character V in V for Vendetta shares Fawkes goal – and assumes his face.

There was one couple that didn’t make it all the way through the movie and there were several times that I wanted to leave in frustration. The film is set in future London. The United States has dissolved into turmoil and civil war along with much of the world. A right-wing extremist Adam Sutler (played by John Hurt) has used this environment to gain absolute power and transform Britain into a 1984-esque dictatorship.

The story revolves around a young woman, Evey (played by Natalie Portman) who breaks curfew and is saved from Gestapo-like “fingermen” by V-a masked vigilante set on revolution. V (voiced by Hugo Weaving) invites Evey to witness his opening shot at the regime and she watches in horror as he proceeds to blow-up the Old Baily.

The movie takes some not-so-sutble shots at the current environment. Government detainees are “black hooded” and tortured referencing Abu Ghraib. Two top sins against the hardline Christian government are Islam and homosexuality, both of which are punishable by death.

The main controversy of the film is sure to arise from V’s explosive terrorism which he uses to inspire the populous to rise up against the government. In explaining his actions to a shocked Evie he insists that the people need hope more than a building. He explains that buildings are symbols of power and oppression and “terrorists” are in the eye of the beholder. This is sure to rile-up people in the wake of 9/11.

The film is pretentious to be sure. Written by the Wachowski brothers who helmed the Matrix films, the film seems to be an attempt to infuse political ideology to the 15 year-old boys (or 24-year olds, whatever) that are sure to be the intended audience for this graphic novel-inspired story. At times the heavy-handed-ness of the plot left me thinking, “oh come on.”

Then again.

The film makes definite attempts to align the story with the rise of the Nazis in Germany and in that context, such governmental atrocities are not completely without precedent. The treatment of the homosexuality and Islam angles, however, seemed to be more of an attempt to make the film fit in the present rather than an integral part of the story.

If V‘s main goal is to make people think, then I would consider it a success. In spite of my own friction to a lot of the film’s negativity, it did make me stop and think about issues that have made the news recently.

Just don’t expect me to start blowing stuff up anytime soon.

Rated: R for violence and language and disturbing Holocaust-like images