Film Reviews


By • Mar 17th, 2006 •

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Warner Bros. Pictures / Silver Pictures
MPAA rating R / Running time — 131 minutes

QUOTE: “V” is a gay, Shakespeare-soliloquy-spurting blowhard with a creepy, but well-groomed, hairdo. He’s also a dancing, knife-wielding karate killer.

I came back from Mali, West Africa just in time for last night’s preview of V FOR VENDETTA, an eagerly awaited film adapted by Andy Wachowski & Larry Wachowski (now called “The Wachowskis). I’ve been obsessed with Larry’s transformation into Lana and his relationship with a dominatrix.

It’s the near future and the U.S. has crumbled. England is now being run by a dictator named Sutler (John Hurt). It’s amazing how influential Adolph Hitler continues to be. He’s still everybody’s alpha dictator icon.

Sutler has only one squawking enemy. His name is “V” (supposedly, Hugo Weaving) and he is a nutty, but extremely wealthy, man in a mask. (I read Premiere magazine’s article on V FOR VENDETTA. It might be Weaving’s voice, but did he really turn up on set to wield knives and cook eggs?)

“V” is on a one-man campaign to overthrow England’s symbol of decadent power. He has omnipresent power to go anywhere, do anything, and take over every TV channel. What he really needs are some patient, indulgent friends. Or therapy.

“V” has fashioned himself as a latter-day Guy Fawkes – hence the mask with the silly grin. He tells London via TV that on the next anniversary of Guy Fawkes Day – which is November 5th – he will blow up the Houses of Parliament. He invites disenfranchised Londoners to don his mask and join him.

Is now the right time to mention that Osama bin Laden is an acknowledged hero in Mali?

“V” quotes long passages from Shakespeare. I, however, will choose a short verse from Ezekiel. “Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity, but thou has delivered thy soul.” Ezekiel 3:19.

What does Ezekiel 3:19 have to do with V FOR VENDETTA? Well, “V” would send me a mask and cloak in appreciation of my cheekiness.

“V’s” platform is this: “Woe, ye Londoners who have given yourself over to corrupt leaders. Terrorism is merely a concept thrust upon you in your sheep-like selfishness to live peacefully and shop for knick knacks.” And blah, blah, blah.

“V” defies curfew and roams around London. He happens upon Evey (Natalie Portman, attempting a British accent with difficulty). He rescues her from a sexual attack and decides, because she is 5 feet tall and 92 pounds of fighting menace, she would make a perfect accomplice.

To indoctrinate Evey, “V” takes her to his S&M dungeon. He strips her of her femininity and tortures her. Eventually Evey experiences her very own “Dark Night of the Soul” and dons a baby-girl costume to aid “V” in his devious plot to overthrow the government. I think – I’m not sure – that “V” was a victim of the government’s campaign against personal freedom. (Even though “V” was sent to a concentration camp and came out physically scarred, he still kept his incredible wealth and Broadway musical flair for the dramatic flourish.

Based on Alan Moore’s wildly popular graphic novel, V FOR VENDETTA is a disappointment. Due to “V’s” insistence on speeches, the film feels long and tedious. No wonder Mr. Moore condemned the screenplay as “imbecilic.”

In fairness to The Wachowskis, Moore hates any movie made from his graphic novels and, per his demand, his name does not appear in the credits.

There were rumors that director James McTeigue was just a stand-in figurehead to shield the Wachowskis from the media’s glare. McTeigue, the Wachowskis’ first assistant director on all their ‘Matrix’ films, shows a distinctive style and witty flare here. Sure, he’s got all that gay subterranean imagery and bruised, confused sexual identity thing to deal with, but he knows the Wachowskis well enough by now to bring their ideological slant to the screen. And, under the circumstances, McTeigue still manages to infuse the film with his own viewpoint.

If The Wachowskis wanted to present us with their ideas about masking one’s identify and exploring psycho-sexual preferences, they have achieved their goals with V FOR VENDETTA. It is a perfect venue cloaked in the guise of a graphic comic book with an alienated superhero arch-villain. But will “V’s” fans support his obvious gay-themed persona?

Director: James McTeigue
Screenwriters: Andy Wachowski & Larry Wachowski
Based on the graphic novel by: Alan Moore and David Lloyd
Producers: Grant Hill, Joel Silver, Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski
Executive producer: Benjamin Waisbren
Director of photography: Adrian Biddle
Production designer: Owen Paterson
Music: Dario Marianelli
Co-producers: Roberto Malerba, Henning Molfenter, Charlie Woebcken
Costume designer: Sammy Sheldon
Editor: Martin Walsh

Evey Hammond: Natalie Portman
V: Hugo Weaving
Finch: Stephen Rea
Sutler: John Hurt
Prothero: Roger Allam
Gordon Deitrich: Stephen Fry
Creedy: Tim Pigott-Smith

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