Director: James McTeigue
Cast: Bald Natalie Portman and a MimeFrom James Roland at redfenceproject.comSPOILERSV for Vendetta
is about a theocratic dictatorship that rapes helpless women and burns art . . . and the flamboyantly gay community-theater actor who tries to stop them by killing old women in their beds and blowing up famous landmarks in London.
Do you really need a review?
The recent bombardment of graphic novel adaptations has been hit or miss at the box office. And itís true, the Wachowski brothersí pedigree isnít much to brag about after the socially embarrassing Matrix
sequels, but the promise of a new director and action packed knife fights drew me to the video store.
Early reviews of V for Vendetta
seemed promising and, in all fairness, the film really wasnít that bad. It just forgot a golden rule of filmmaking: donít make your hero look like a perverted circus clown.
The first three scenes hit the audience in rapid, mediocre succession. The first is a rushed flashback about a revolutionary who is quickly caught and executed. This odd intro serves no real purpose, other than providing our hero, V, with an idea for his ridiculous mask and wig combo.
This is followed by a confusing rip-off of The Phantom of the Opera, where V and our heroine, Evey (Natalie Portman) sit and prep their hair in a mirror before heading out for the night.
Thrills by the minute.
The last is a heavy handed introduction to the filmís fantasy world, in which we meet the antagonist (a reality-free religious government that carries badges adorned with cross-like symbols, and which we are intended to equate with the current U.S. administration) and watch as Evey narrowly escapes getting raped in public.
V swoops in to save the day and proceeds, with over-dramatic flair, to deliver the dumbest dialog ever devised to destroy decency with devilish . . . alliteration.
Almost all the dialog is pure exposition. Two detectives, torn between a loyalty to their government and the loose liberal rhetoric of a known terrorist, are hot on the trail of V. But instead of chasing him down dark alleys or setting up elaborate sting operations (scenes that would provide action to an otherwise action-less action movie) they spend much of their time staring at computer screens and talking about what to do next.
Despite all the technical flaws, itís the philosophy of Vendetta
that really rings false. The film is based on a graphic novel that was published by Vertigo, a division of DC Comics. Vendetta
carries the same world view and flawed logic of such Vertigo titles as Hellblazer
(from which we get the movie Constantine
) and The Sandman,
both of which portray religion as a bane to society.
The film wallows in stereotypes and hypocrisy: The sleazy religious priest is murdered in an act of sexual deviancy, but the film laments the censored life of a gay man that keeps violent male porn and Nazi propaganda in an underground chamber. When Evey stumbles blindly upon his secret cache, tucked ominously into a dark corner, her first instinct is to run. She seems frightened to be alone in a dark basement with this man . . . and yet, in the next scene, she eats breakfast with him.
Later in the movie, Evey almost goes the way of Winston Smith. Luckily, our once bold and beautiful heroine keeps her mind intact by reading the autobiography of a previous tenant - another original, well crafted and realistic character . . . a misunderstood lesbian with abusive, close minded religious parents.
In what are possibly the most ridiculous scenes of the film, we see Valerie (Natasha Wightman) face her parents as they rant, call her disgusting names and, in a syrupy slow motion, throw her baby picture into the trash. Later in the sequence, Valerie and her lover watch the news as the government storms the private homes of homosexuals and drags them off to prison. Behind them we see the loverís bed of roses disappear into the background as we hear the most subtle dialog ever written, ďAnd after that there were no more roses . . . .Ē
Near the end of the film the deep, dark government secret is finally revealed. At a high security testing facility, a priest, a nurse, and a government officer dispose of dead human test subjects in large piles that look like they were stolen from WWII stock footage.
Now, Iím not a particular fan of the current presidential administration, but even the most liberal of liberals ought to balk at putting Bush on a level with Hitler.
Pol Pot, maybe . . . or even Michael Moore, but not Hitler.
And anyway, Vendetta
seems ready to use Nazis as a comparison for pure evil, but didnít it also use a Swastika as an example of unfairly banned art?
Nazis bad, Swastika good.
Nazis bad, Swastika good. Nazis bad, Swastika good.
Sorry, I know this is annoying, but just in case the Wachowski brothers are reading this I want to speak to them in their own language . . . subtlety.