"V for Vendetta"
Directed by James McTeigue.
Written by Larry Wachowski and Andy Wachowski. Based on the
graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd.
Starring Hugo Weaving, Natalie Portman, Stephen Rey and John
Release Year: 2006
Review Date: 3/19/06
My problems with the new thriller "V for
Vendetta" start with the title to this fucking movie. When you
watch the thing, you learn how a man of the people that wears a
cool-yet-strange mask, named V (Hugo Weaving, Agent Smith from "The
Matrix" films), came up with his name...that his name actually comes
from the Roman numeral V, which is actually Five, because that was
the Roman numeral on the cell door where he was imprisoned many
So, why does the man get so obsessed with
spouting off words with the letter V? Or, why is the film tied
to "V for Vendetta"? The V is for motherfucking FIVE, so V is
NOT for Vendetta or Vengeance or Victory or any of that bullshit!
Maybe the producers thought that "V for Five" wouldn't sell as many
The movie attached to this nonsense is
similarly confusing, but not because you get lost in the plot, you
get lost in the not-so-strong moviemaking, which is probably why
this film was finished last fall and set for release last
December...because everyone involved realized that this business was
not that good after all. Based on a 17-year-old graphic novel,
"V for Vendetta" follows V as he plots a course of vengeance on his
own government in the year 2020, which in the Britain of the future
is a totalitarian society ruled by High Chancellor Sutler (John
Hurt, featuring the most menacing teeth in cinema history). V
picks November 5th as his day to strike--for reasons explained in
the film--and we watch V plot for 12 months as he attempts to strike
down the government leadership in order to help the people of this
society nation-build from the ground up. V gets help from a
government TV channel gopher named Evey (Natalie Portman) in order
to strike down the various government officials that took part in a
nasty experiment before trying to take down the whole government in
Ross, The Professional and I took this in
after watching hoops all day, so we were primed to check this thing
out. "V for Vendetta" disappoints early and often; I think it
was because the story by The Wachowski Brothers attempts to feel
very important while also trying to give us some action to pass the
time...but, the action sequences are VERY few and far between (total
action scenes: one) and the evil government of this film
doesn't really make you want to go out and question your own
government, mostly because it spends inordinate amounts of time
dealing with issues of gay relationships and censorship, which quite
frankly aren't issues that I find myself worrying about when it
comes to my current government.
Maybe it was shocking 17 years ago when this
graphic novel was first published for gay couples to be "living in
sin", but having just gone through our government shooting down gay
marriages--officially recognizing gay marriages, a problem; being
up-and-up about gay couples, not a problem--I don't think this is
quite the issue now that it might be in the near future like the
film presents; similarly, the idea that our leadership would shoot
down any TV show that pokes fun at its highest position of power in
this country is a joke, since that would mean that every single
daytime and late night talk show would have no opening monologues
whatsoever. Now, in other countries, these two issues are much
larger, I am sure, but as an American film production, "V for
Vendetta" has an agenda which missed me completely. What about
poverty? What about disease? What about health care?
What about military strategy? The film's script touches none
of these things, and in the here and now, those issues would
resonate more with people I interact with and the people as a whole.
Shit, we just had a movie about cowboys that like to fuck other
cowboys almost win an Oscar, and we had another guy play a gay
writer actually WIN the Oscar; this has nothing to do with how the
majority of Americans think (I've always wondered how well "Brokeback"
has played in Wyoming), but as one of the pillars of government
terror behavior in this film, "V for Vendetta" seems to spend too
much time using gay life as a basis for Britain's future injustice.
But, let's throw that out altogether.
In the movie, you need to get behind the V character in order to buy
into the whole shebang, but in watching V plot his course for the 12
months between terrorist acts, we instead watch him tell us about
his love of swordfighting and "The Count of Monte Cristo", and real
butter (of course, real butter has been outlawed in this society of
the future) and classical music. Uh, do we HAVE to wait 12
months to watch this guy blow up the Parliament building???
Wow, "V for Vendetta" is strangely boring for about an hour, and
Portman does her best to try and keep things afloat, mostly to no
avail. We also spend much, much time watching the government's
top cop (Stephen Rea of "The Crying Game") investigate Evey and V.
Blah. Did I mention that there is no action in this action
film? And that it is a 130-minute opus on personal freedoms,
to include living with your same-sex partner, eating real butter and
keeping a copy of the Koran bedside?
What did I like about this movie? The
mask. And, the end action sequence. And, what might be
the loudest domino sequence of all time. Seriously, the sound
effects of "V for Vendetta" are so amped that watching the dominos
fall was like standing beneath Niagara Falls. So, you can
imagine that knives flying through the air is about 10 times louder
than that, which is insanely loud given that we're talking about
knives flying through the air.
Some of V's lines are great, but they are rarely profound, but
Weaving voices them as if they should be profound, so that makes
them slightly silly and ineffective. Weaving is a strange
choice to play this character, since 1) he's basically Australian
(not born there, but lived there pretty much his whole life), and 2)
he has no face time. Couldn't they find just about any English
actor to play this part with similar results? One would think
Weaving didn't do any stuntwork for this movie, so why not just pull
a Darth Vader and have one guy do all the physical work and another
do all the voice work?
Hey, that's just me--trying to cut corners.
I know this much: when one really boils it down, the Wachowski
Brothers have really made only one great film--"The Matrix."
The rest have really been a mixed bag or worse ("Bound",
"Assassins", the three "Matrix" video games and the two "Matrix"
sequels), and "V for Vendetta" does little to pull these two guys
out of the shitter.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard