It’s really too bad that most of the people who see the Wachowski Brothers’ great new film V For Vendetta are going to mistake it for being nothing more than a stylish, if ultra-violent, futuristic action movie loaded with awesome effects.
Don’t get me wrong, because V For Vendetta is absolutely all of that, and more.
But to mistake it as being merely that, would be to completely miss the point. And V For Vendetta is clearly a movie with a point to make — even if it has been somewhat cleverly dressed up as a Hollywood popcorn movie.
The hero of V For Vendetta is something of a cross between the masked serial killers of slasher fare like Friday the 13th and Halloween, and the avenging angels of Reagan-era action movies like like RoboCop and The Terminator.
But “V” is no angel.
“V” is a terrorist.
But this is no ordinary terrorist.
“V” is a sympathetic terrorist.
And therein lies the paradox of V For Vendetta.
In the post 9/11 world we live in, the idea of cheering for someone blowing up government institutions like the British Parliament (which are mere “symbols” as “V” reminds us) is not one many people should be comfortable with.
Which is why I found V For Vendetta to be such a fascinating — even courageous — film.
You see, V For Vendetta challenges those conventions.
If you are anything like me, the thing about the first (and only truly great) movie in the Wachowski Brothers’ Matrix trilogy that first sucked you in wasn’t so much the revolutionary time stop action sequences, cool as they we’re.
Rather, it was the whole underlying theme of totalitarianist oppression (by computers of all things) epitomized by Hugo Weaving’s Agent Smith character.
Cold. Clinical. Detached.
And dare I say, absolutely corporate. Agent Smith reminded us of the everyday oppression many of us feel in the daily workplace.
V For Vendetta visualizes much the same future political minefield, but this time it is seen through the eyes of masked hero “V” (also played by Weaving), who has decided to take matters into his own very dexterous (even if deformed by fire) knife-wielding hands.
In a not too distant future, America has been destroyed by civil war and England is ruled by the iron fist of High Chancellor Adam Sutler (John Hurt), with the aid of jackbooted goons “The Fingermen,” headed up by a very nasty guy named Creedy.
As the plot unfolds, it becomes apparent that the rise to power of Sutler, Creedy, and company came through the exploitation of fear created by a national crisis that it turns out they manufactured themselves.
The comparisons in this film to Hitler and Nazi Germany quickly become obvious.
But I have to admit, that as I watched this, I found myself re-examining every conspiracy theory I have ever heard about the Bush Administration’s supposed involvement in 9/11.
This is a movie that definitely makes you think.
But back to our sympathetic terrorist hero, the masked man “V.”
After he rescues damsel in distress Evey (Natalie Portman), an employee of the state run propaganda television network, from an attempted rape by a couple of the Fingermen goons, “V” takes her to the rooftops to watch him blow up a government building.
“Do You Like Music?” V asks Evey in one of this film’s several great lines of dialogue, as the 1812 Overture blares the soundtrack to the fireworks over loud speakers in the streets.
Turns out “V” has taken a cue from his spiritual mentor, 16th Century Catholic Guy Fawkes (whose mask he wears), and has decided to send a message to his oppressors by blowing up the British Parliament building on November 5th (the anniversary of Fawkes’ original attempt to do the same).
Over the course of V For Vendetta, and with the none to subtle assistance of “V” Himself, Evey has her own spiritual and political epiphany and becomes his accomplice.
As I noted above, there are so many great lines of dialogue in this movie I couldn’t begin to note them all.
But here are a few of my favorites:
“A revolution without dancing, isn’t one worth having.”
“Beneath this mask is an idea, and ideas are bulletproof.”
And my personal favorite:
“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”
Like I said, V For Vendetta is a movie that makes you think, even as it entertains you by blowing things up and with some very cool effects (loved the knife trails in the fight scenes).
Though it is somewhat cleverly disguised as a popcorn action movie, there’s a definite statement being made in V For vendetta.
V For Vendetta is a movie with an agenda.
It’s about time.