V For Vendetta
Reviewed by: American SyCo - SimplyScripts Lead Film/DVD Reviewer
In the opening paragraph for my (negative) review of "Saw II," I wrote how pre-release hype can either make or break a film with me. As I wrote in that review, films like "Shaun of the Dead" has had its hype work very well for itself. Of course, in the case of "Saw," its hype was just a bit too much apparently. Now, though, we come to "V for Vendetta," a property based on a comic I've never read (from mastermind Alan Moore, who, unfortunately, has never had a very good relationship with movie studios and, hence, no longer asks for credit when his works make the jump to the screen). Even now as I write this, my TV next to me has a commercial airing in which one critic called "V" the "first great film of 2006" and just yesterday, I read an advance review that claimed "Vendetta" is not only a good film, but it will actually change the way you look at life.
Well, luckily, in the case of "V for Vendetta" its hype is mostly correct. Have my opinions on life been changed? Not at all. This is a movie produced by Joel Silver for God's sake. But is this one immensely entertaining? Absolutely.
"V for Vendetta" deals with a facist government in the future that controls all of... Britain? Europe? I'm still not sure. Anyhoo, it seems that some sort of horrific plague has taken hold of most of North America, and the U.S. has been plunged into a chaotic civil war. It is this war that has led to the ugly state of Britian (or all of Europe). Freedom of speech and actions is no longer tolerated, and one man thinks this should change.
This is V, our main protagonist. I'd like to take the time and make a quick point here. There are many out there pointing an accusing finger at "Vendetta," claiming that it shares a pro-terrorism stance. Anyone who says this is vastly mis-informed, as V is no more a terrorist then George Washington was. After all, if it's a Hitler-like figure calling you "a terrorist," then does it really count?
Moving on, we are introduced to the big baddie, that of Emperor Adam Sutler, an evil, Big Brother-type who appears only on a large television screen before his evil board of directors (we know they're evil because they sit in a circle in complete darkness, only their faces being shown). Of course, the hapless ruler is extremely upset that a "terrorist" is running around, blowing up buildings and causing just general chaos. Detective Finch (the always solid Stephen Rea) is thrown on to the case and is soon questioning his own patriotism towards the ruling government around him. It should also be noted that Natalie Portman is sort of thrown into all of this as the hapless Evey, a woman rescued and then taken in by V.
Know what? It doesn't really matter. Being completely coherent is not exactly the point of this one, which I think is actually quite a shame. Clues as to exactly what the hell is going on just sort of trickles in piece by piece and, by the end, there are still some things that haven't been covered quite as well as I wish they should have. While watching this, I couldn't help but be reminded of last year's "Constantine," in that we get a bunch of pretty colors but an all-too-vague sense of reasons for the said pretty colors. Though, this may be unfair, as I find "V" to not only be able to explain itself a bit better then "Constantine" (a film I actually liked based on its coolness factor alone), but I believe it too just be a much better film as well.
But then we come to the action sequences, which are... well, breath taking. To mix things up a bit, V uses no guns of any kind, but only his wits and a rather large collection of cutlery. The knife-work in this film is absolutely fantastic, and the bullet-time slow motion effect popularized by "The Matrix" is not nearly as masturbatory here as it is in some other movies that cop it ("Alien Vs. Predator," I'm looking your way). For this, first time director and "Matrix" D.A. James McTeigue should be commended.
Speaking of the director, there is even more controversary with this one in that there are some out there claiming that McTeigue is in actuality just a frontman for The Wachowski Brothers (who wrote and produced). I find this hard to beleive, as McTeigue has actually gone against the D.A. stereotypes, and has managed to find his own sense of style that is actually quite unlike The Wachowskis. In fact, this is more like "Hellboy" meets "Darkman" with, oddly enough, a dash of "Sky Captain" added... though, I don't really think this one is quite as good as the aforementioned few.
So, we have a very solid cast, a decent enough script, and a nice little debut from McTeigue. So, what's not to like? Honestly, I just don't know. The incoherency is certainly part of the problem, but that's just not it. I'm giving this one a three star rating, the same rating I bestowed upon films like "Constantine" and "Van Helsing"... yet, this is better. Much better then either of those. It's just that there is something missing, that extra kick. There are non-action scenes in this flick where everything falls into place, such as an expertly directed and edited montage of Rea putting all the pieces together as chaos comes to fruition and V knocks down a very large and very cool set of dominoes or when the would-be terrorist has a very touching sitdown with one of his victims who is truly sorry for all her wrong doings.
Very awesome and very powerful.
Yet we also get some truly bizzarre stuff like the image of V, sporting his dark, black clothing and freaky Guy Fawkes mask wearing... a flower-coated apron and making eggs in a frying pan. There's even more too, but I just can't put my finger on it. Something that just doesn't fit.
So, with that, I say this one is certainly worth seeing. Also, as a final note, it should be made very clear that if you choose not to see this because of your political views, there is something very wrong-headed about you. For the love of God people, do not look to deep into this. In the words of Holden McNeil:
"These are fictional characters."
*** out of ****
Copyright © American SyCo 2006
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