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V for Vendetta
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by Marc Kandel

"III out of V"
3 stars

“V for Vendetta” is fun, but won’t stay in your memory long. It doesn’t outrage or stir you like it should. It doesn’t make you grit your teeth or chill you enough- and mind you I’m speaking of a film with a disturbingly detailed concentration camp processing scene and plenty of righteous, entertaining ass-kicking- so where does it go wrong?

“V” is a tale of violent vengeance and victory by a man in a mask wronged long ago, a tale of people rising against a government no longer serving, but slaying and suppressing, ripe for the takedown, with perhaps a little allusion to modern day troubles thrown in to spice up the brew. Throw in a beautiful damsel in distress, not just rescued but forged into an iron soul with purpose, and hey, what’s not to like?

But alas, it’s not the revolutionary epic I had hoped for, as its pretensions to righteousness and truth, messages so staunchly voiced throughout the story, are ground into airy dust by a conclusion that is insincere to say the least, against the brutish world the film tries so hard to establish from the get-go. Despite the McTeigue/Wachowski collaboration struggling to impart this environment and its characters with dread gravity- all they have left is a very heavy, burdensome film sloughed off pretty easily once the viewer emerges into the sunlight.

What the hell am I talking about? A fair enough question, so here are a few examples that those who have not yet attended this new release might not want to linger on, set in italics so you can skip back to the non-spoilers after:

- In a world where the inhabitants are very used to men in jackboots routinely sweeping people out of existence, curfew is the norm, non-conformity an instant death sentence, and entertainment substituted with obvious, heavy-handed pro-establishment propaganda , a public television figure runs a satirical skit that, while extremely witty and amusing (A high point in the film), goes far past what even the most beloved late night hosts of our repressive era would chance, ending with the mock-execution of this society’s leader.

Said individual has incendiary skeletons in the closet all his own and has lived his life with careful and calculated precision, but performs this action with relish and carefree abandon, which could be sold as a genuine revolutionary act of martyrdom, but the character’s sincere belief that a slap on the wrist is the worst to be expected galls me, when every last one of his actions and ideology prior to this act belie this curiously dissonant blasé attitude.

- This film’s coda is actually the overture of the book. Book to film revisions aside, this choice illustrates a sloppy attitude that says the film must end with a bang: And so it does. But the point of the story is to kill the diseased governing body, amputate its leprous limbs that have reached into every aspect of life, silence it’s creaking, corrupt voice and leave a world in unfettered silence and doubt, asking for its people to stand up and make a new, better place. We get a big explosion and a voiceover instead reminiscing about one character’s fondness for another. I don’t doubt the adaptation was tricky- but to miss the point so much…

- A revolutionary story is distracted by a Phantom of the Operaesque love story, and the inclusion carries with it the stench of a formulaic crutch. Evey and V do have a very real fondness and awkward love for each other, but when only one aspect of the relationship is played up it undercuts V’s very character, making him an ape of his heroes, rather than an original in his own right. Homage is fine. V is an Edmond Dantes, a Zorro, but he is also very specifically crafted to be a monster who has no place in the world to come- to make him a Cyrano hoping to be worthy of Evey in the middle of the film is another layer this overburdened story did not need to make its far too many points- it also destroys the pragmatic intent to make Evey into V for the new world- something the movie leaves behind that the novel was very clear on- the movie chooses a different, Spartacus-like way, one that I can respect, but again undercuts this choice by making it a far too easy, gentle passing of the torch, which brings my next point of contention:

- We are witness to the most polite riot against a police state in the history of man- I won’t elaborate further, suffice to say human history teaches us much, much different, and this moment fails to sell itself because frankly, that’s not how things of this nature go down- an observation made not just by myself, but by a character in the film analyzing the outcome of the very same scenario.

End Spoilers

You will note I make no case about V’s alleged terrorist training, building demolition as political statement, etc., because frankly this isn’t the World Trade Center attacks or terrorist action against civilians. This is an attack on a government that has shed all illusion of fairness, equality and humanity- it is an attack on worms that have infested the core of a country and spewed forth genocide and totalitarianism. Fuck em’.

My problems with the film lie in finding myself more horrified at the taut, quiet, desperate struggles of “Good Night and Good Luck” or the typical newspaper headline today remarking on the FCC cracking down on any television show it wants to under vague definitions of indecency, answerable to no one, or our stumblebum President stammering and looking on with his dead eyes as he systematically lets the world go to hell.

This film tries to terrify us with the stern cabal of shadowed men planning death and disappearance, various scenes of repression and brutality, marching Blackshirts goose-stepping amid a large swastika-like banner whilst a man with a case of morning Hitler-hair raves, V’s brutalized origin and Evey’s tortuous conversion from victim to victor. But while the latter two are fascinating and gripping, the former are so over the top and overused, not just by this film but any film looking for an “easy” enemy, they no longer pack the punch of alarming images but rather a grocery list of things we need to see and check off so we can be sure to hate the bad guys.

The performances, visuals, and great fight scenes keep the film’s head above the waters of boredom, but otherwise it’s an underwhelming effort. It is telling that the director, James McTeigue, an eight year veteran under the tutelage of the film’s producers, the Wachowski brothers, makes their same mistakes that took a good idea and execution in “The Matrix” and changed it from an exciting, fast paced visual and conceptual feast, into a shambling morass of incoherency and pompous, bloated rhetoric.

V doesn’t go quite that far, but it’s an awkward meeting of vision and compromise, focus and wandering, striking the right notes either too lightly or not enough (every wonder how that explosion happened at V’s prison and why that would even be relevant to the plot at hand? McTeigue didn't so you don't get to know.), and the wrong ones with explosive percussion. Full of sound and fury, and though it doesn’t exactly signify nothing, it accomplishes far less than the story’s potential, preventing arresting visuals and adept, riveting performances from cohering into a truly satisfying experience. It’s a good watch, but won’t win a place in the heart as much as the novel that spawned it, which I cannot cannot cannot recommend to the HBS audience enough.

PS: Folks who think Natalie can’t do a Brit accent can suckle my taint.

I leave this review with a statement made by V in the book that didn’t make it into the film, but is appropriate: "First you must discover whose face lies behind this mask, but you must never know my face." Think about it.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=13855&reviewer=358
originally posted: 03/20/06 13:17:07
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
DC Characters: For more in the DC Characters series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2013 Boston SciFi Film Festival For more in the 2013 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/16/17 morris campbell not bad at all 4 stars
3/10/15 Nik The story was built around its message, not vice versa 3 stars
7/04/11 Dr.Lao Entertaining but undistinguished entry into the done-to-death "future dictatorship" genre 3 stars
5/28/11 Shaun A Powerful vision that left me breathless and thoughtful. 5 stars
5/27/11 Toni I love this movie - definately one for our times 5 stars
3/27/11 Lenny Zane Ordinarily Natalie Portman could fascinate me for hours picking her nose, but THIS...Ugh! 1 stars
9/23/10 art V reminded me of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA! 3 stars
3/02/10 KGBproduced Have I just seen a film or a Soviet reel leveling all ills on religion and the bourgoisie? 1 stars
1/29/10 art V FOR VERY BAD!,is more like it! 1 stars
11/22/09 Jeff Wilder Entertaining and frightening futuristic thriller. 5 stars
6/03/09 Tom Good Day. Let us so live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry. Help m 3 stars
4/02/09 Gorgon Zola An unbelievably clunky snoozer. Angst driven, poorly scripted and painful acting by Portman 1 stars
2/12/09 Peter North I'd like to drop my dynamite in Evey's V....... 5 stars
8/18/08 Shaun Wallner This ones ok. 3 stars
8/03/08 Samantha Pruitt deep and awesome movie with a great story and acting! 4 stars
6/19/08 thismoviesucks most pretentious movie I've seen, terrible waste of time 1 stars
5/25/08 zenny zestfully sticking it to the man 4 stars
3/24/08 emissario666 Good, but not as deep as the original 3 stars
2/28/08 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne How low hath Queen Amidala sunk -- unto sucking her own turds in this muck! 1 stars
12/07/07 yýlmaz perfect 5 stars
11/10/07 g webster not what I expected,extremely well done all around! 5 stars
11/08/07 il-Palazzo V is such a badass. 5 stars
7/09/07 Jubei Greatly written,one man's revenge turns a country against its dictators.Makes politics cool 5 stars
7/06/07 Greg Terrible movie 1 stars
7/03/07 Rocko Livingston Very very very nicely done! 5 stars
6/29/07 Mark Leonard Very surprised! Very well acted, superb music, gripped me all the the way through. 4 stars
6/18/07 rishy one of the greatest movies ever made. thought-provoking 5 stars
5/05/07 WCC Complete liberal propaganda. pot calling kettle black. 1 stars
4/12/07 Nessus Impressive, an action movie with a message 5 stars
2/26/07 Donny M People are stupid. Best story drivin movie in the last 5 years. 5 stars
2/21/07 Bitchflaps Peurile garbage, a 15 year old Maoist's wet dream I expected it to be bad but Jesus Christ. 1 stars
2/08/07 Andre urbani S for shit - too preachy and assumes the audience are stupid 1 stars
2/06/07 The chode Badass, the dialouge was so good its rediculous. 5 stars
1/10/07 Jake This movie is the complete and utter shit. 5 stars
1/08/07 Gerard Revengeful ! 5 stars
1/06/07 Quicksilver Interesting thoughts on totalitarianism married to long sequences of boredom 4 stars
1/01/07 Todd Fucking cool as hell, not what I was expecting 5 stars
12/11/06 Angela Saunders One of the most thought provoking films of the year. Surprisingly great!!! 5 stars
12/05/06 mel watkins a movie for our times 5 stars
11/18/06 lou a.m.a.z.i.n.g. one of the best films ever. 5 stars
10/28/06 R.W.Welch Paranoid and propagandistic but some good perfs. C+ 3 stars
10/19/06 MP Bartley Interesting ideas, awful dialogue, clumsy execution. 3 stars
10/15/06 Kristina Finally a film that is set out of america and with love and blood at the same time 5 stars
10/05/06 Lance Bush combined with Orwell....Great, timely lessons throughout this deep film of conscience 5 stars
10/02/06 Louise Couldn't get a handle on it at all - gave up after an hour ... 2 stars
10/02/06 Dr. Fishopolis ...and Anastasia Beaverhausen can go eat a dick. 4 stars
9/20/06 daveyt what a load of old tosh... 1 stars
9/16/06 Open/Eyes Fear & Control or Fear of Control? Fair warning... 4 stars
9/13/06 Patrick Petty I found this film great, very thought provoking, reminds me of the times we live in. 5 stars
9/06/06 Indrid Cold Obviously above average, but too much politics and not nearly enough excitement. 4 stars
9/03/06 JeromeBosch Superb Orwellian tale with great acting and FX. 5 stars
8/25/06 james burke Best of 2006 thus far, visually well rendered, superb cast, great material, and relevant 5 stars
8/23/06 AnnieG Very good adaption of the graphic novel. 4 stars
8/23/06 Freedom Loved the movie. "WOW" Could that be our Gov.? This movie could be a BIG eye opener. 5 stars
8/20/06 Gene Awesome 5 stars
8/19/06 ALDO A few good scene but mostly way 2 boring.. TOO much Blah blah blah 2 stars
8/18/06 Mary Beth great on Imax 5 stars
8/16/06 matt a few good parts but mostly just dull 3 stars
8/13/06 Ryan_A Exceeded my expectations. Weaving's vocal delivery is worth 1 star by itself. 4 stars
8/09/06 Lisa Loved it!! Captivated all the way through. Kook LIberal Paranoid & Proud of it!! 5 stars
8/09/06 Dragon The Artist I can't believe my well tasted uncle loved it, Me? BORING, YAWNFEST,SNORESVILLE!!!! 2 stars
8/08/06 Charles Stroud V for Vendetta is move than a movie, its a conception that fans the flames of liberty. 5 stars
8/08/06 Anastasia Beaverhausen Finally, kook liberal paranoids get their film 1 stars
8/08/06 Viper Did Michael Moore write this preposterous rubbish 2 stars
8/06/06 TreeTiger Good movie - go rent it..! 5 stars
8/05/06 davood dreadful,rubbish,awfull,waste of time 1 stars
8/05/06 Charles Strout For all who love freedom, and risk their lives for it. This movie will embrace you're soul 5 stars
8/03/06 philby john Impressive 5 stars
7/29/06 flloyd pretentious, boring, thinly drawn characters that you dont care about in the slightest 1 stars
7/29/06 Robert Maleman Very bad acting and story, boring too. 1 stars
7/15/06 Reklc It appeals to me so I'm an idiot (and proud to be one)! 5 stars
7/12/06 Aaron Dumb, really dumb bad film 1 stars
7/10/06 Lee Fantastic actors. Great dialogue. Brilliant film. Amazing. 5 stars
7/07/06 william zoran Would appeal to an idiot. 1 stars
7/03/06 Another fan disappointed by NP The once superb Natalie Portman would be more appealing engaging in autocoprophagy. 1 stars
6/26/06 Chris Fawkes What a dog of a film. Bored me crapless. V looks like Joan Rivers and who would want to loo 1 stars
6/22/06 Ariadne Christina Renee Gladstone Parts that make sense are good, just not enough of 'em. Pretty bad.... no wait...... 1 stars
6/11/06 Jim F. Great, thought-provoking, scary. 5 stars
6/02/06 Hellen It is a great movie, very political 5 stars
5/17/06 Alfred Guy Tried to be different and that's a good thing. 4 stars
5/15/06 TyrantisTerror More like V for OMFG AWESOME! Yeah, I know it doesn't make sense. Shut up. 5 stars
5/14/06 Jonny K Excellent Film on every level 5 stars
5/10/06 zaw Great movie, I came from a Socialistic country. Top of my list too! 5 stars
5/10/06 Will Nitschke www.capitaloffice.com.au Based on a comic book but wants its ideas taken seriously, and some can be. 4 stars
5/10/06 Cory Randolph Action-wise, it was boring, though it had interesting topics discussed... 3 stars
5/09/06 aadil fantastic movie... a must see 4 stars
5/08/06 Tranquil Better than I expected, engrossing story and plot development. 4 stars
5/05/06 Freeze Real cliche, nothing new, bored till the end. 2 stars
5/03/06 Alice I dont get it, to me it was boring and VERY average ! 2 stars
5/02/06 liz amato awesome movie, best i have seen 5 stars
4/30/06 lauram Fantastic!!! Made me want to go out and overthrow our liberal old farts government! 5 stars
4/26/06 The Grinch Unfuckwithable! Far exceeded my expectations. GO SEE THIS MOVIE! 5 stars
4/25/06 Clayton Smith this movie is at the top of my list 5 stars
4/22/06 Mase Long in the tooth, not entirely engaging. But has a bold vision. 3 stars
4/21/06 Pat Frederick Totally enjoyed the movie! It was really engrossing! 5 stars
4/21/06 Anthony G Best movie of the year. 5 stars
4/20/06 Hilary 5-star!! Absolutely awesome!! 5 stars
4/20/06 T I thought it was a great movie. I reflected on our own US gov't. 5 stars
4/19/06 malcolm too long. heavy-handed. 3 stars
4/18/06 Koitus Interesting movie, "for OUR time" of "W.' Was expecting more action, though. 4 stars
4/16/06 Furuta The best film i saw this year 5 stars
4/10/06 M Meaningful,Well Written and Couageous. 4 stars
4/09/06 Ty awesome!! awesome!! 5 stars
4/09/06 the untrained eye This is a movie, not a comic book. Repeat. Then enjoy. 4 stars
4/06/06 T loved the flow of words and deep thought. seen it twice already and will purchase it later 5 stars
4/06/06 Troy M. Grzych I went in thinking "Matrix," but got Shakespeare instead!! 5 stars
4/02/06 ajay saw it in the IMAX today, pretty good stuff. 4 stars
3/31/06 kaz on the edge of my seat 5 stars
3/29/06 M. Dido It's quite good, but I've yet to see a film adaptation that does justice to Alan Moore. 3 stars
3/29/06 Titus A few rough edits, needs a bit more spit-and-polish, but came off real well overall. 4 stars
3/28/06 John extremly entertaining, well made and applicable - good stuff 5 stars
3/28/06 Lord Jiggy V 4 very tedious, very obvious, and verbose 2 stars
3/28/06 sweetgrrl1972 It's been a long time since I've seen a movie that I've enjoyed this much. 5 stars
3/27/06 Danny Johanson This movie was very entertaining and did deliver everything i thought it would. 5 stars
3/27/06 Riki Slow in the beginning, but picks up 4 stars
3/27/06 herkos akhaion Complex story is not clearly delivered 3 stars
3/27/06 Brian Meyer V for Victory! This movie entertains in spades! 5 stars
3/27/06 bullit16 Pretty impressive 4 stars
3/26/06 Alex A BORING waste of time. 1 stars
3/25/06 Eevil Wolfie Gave me chills. Needs more action though. 4 stars
3/24/06 Phil beyond my expectations, wonderfully acted, great acting, little different, screw the world 5 stars
3/24/06 pw chong zzzz expected more 2 stars
3/23/06 Anthony G Very Very good. 5 stars
3/22/06 AE Smart thought-provoking cautionary fable 4 stars
3/22/06 Bullwinkle Worth the $5 matinee, def. needed more action though 4 stars
3/21/06 Ole Man Bourbon The world through the eyes of a paranoid schizophrenic? Had its moments though. 3 stars
3/21/06 Persona Surprisingly powerful and absorbing. A great film, period. 5 stars
3/21/06 Kankasaur "V" celebrates victory over tyranny like Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture or V-E Day. Good stuff 5 stars
3/20/06 maxomai Damn impressive. 5 stars
3/20/06 Jannie entertaining, truth, Nartalie, ah..masked man, action, fun 5 stars
3/20/06 Mark A nice surpise--good anti-state message 5 stars
3/19/06 gui awesome 5 stars
3/19/06 Rocky Intelligent flick, fiercely anti-authoritarian...really makes you think 4 stars
3/19/06 PeterV2 The parrallels may be updated, but they are still intriguing. 5 stars
3/19/06 Doug Good 4 stars
3/19/06 Matt Very enjoyable, even better on the IMAX. 4 stars
3/19/06 your worst goddamn nightmare This flick was better than the original comic book!!! Not shittin' you.... 5 stars
3/18/06 Agent Sands More creative and inventive and fresh than it thinks it is. 4 stars
3/18/06 mary oh boy i liked this..so much fun , truth, wonderful acting, great message, prophetic, soon 5 stars
3/18/06 great portman was excellent but the film was just average, boring ending 2 stars
3/18/06 Jesse Excellent thinking movie with some nice plot twists. 5 stars
3/18/06 Vicious Uncomprimising, intelligent, visually adept and all around excellent. 5 stars
3/18/06 Chomp Outstanding movie. 5 stars
3/18/06 Heather Great movie 5 stars
3/18/06 Lazlo Simply excellent! Alan Moore FINALLY done justice on the big screen! 5 stars
3/18/06 BrianWilly Very good stuff. 5 stars
3/18/06 um yeah Can I see N.Portmans boobies please!! 5 stars
3/18/06 KingNeutron Definitely worth seeing. 4 stars
3/17/06 julia wonderfully entertaining and fun 5 stars
3/17/06 drone brilliant adaptation 5 stars
3/17/06 jcjs wowsa, not what i expected..at least as wow as 'Fight Club', band, boom yes indeedie, fine 5 stars
3/16/06 djacosta Mind blowing! 5 stars
3/16/06 brian damn awesome 5 stars
3/14/06 archie Masterpiece! 5 stars
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  17-Mar-2006 (R)
  DVD: 01-Aug-2006



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