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V for Vendetta
2006 - R - 145 Mins.
Director: James McTeigue
Producer: Andy and Larry Wachowski
Written By: Andy and Larry Wachowski
Starring: Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea, Rupert Graves
Review by: Harrison Cheung
Official Site: www.vforvendetta.com
   

V for Vomit-inducing
‘V for Vendetta’ is one of the worst movies I’ve seen in recent memory. Verbose, as subversive as an episode of ‘Simple Life’, and inexplicably dull, ‘V’ is ‘Fascist Politics for Dummies’ – a comic book story that takes itself far too seriously with illogical results. Remember the lengthy titles of ‘Star Wars: Phantom Menace?’ “Turmoil has engulfed the Galactic Republic. The taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems is in dispute… blah blah blah.” Now imagine an entire movie written like that.

Set in the near future in an England ruled by a Big Brother/Nazi-style fascist, ‘V for Vendetta’ is advertised as an action movie It’s not. The England of the future is radically Christian, anti-gay, and anti-Muslim. Undesirable minorities are exterminated or fodder for medical experiments, Holocaust-style. The media is controlled by the state. The sets look like 'Underworld.'

Natalie Portman stars as Evey, a helpless waif who becomes intrigued and eventually involved with ‘V’ (Hugo Weaving from ‘The Matrix’), a masked activist who spouts politics and philosophy against dictator Sutler (John Hurt) who rules England with an iron glove. The rest of the cast is like a who’s who of British indie film, including Stephen Rea, Rupert Graves and Stephen Fry.

The project is clearly too much for first time director, James McTeigue. The screenplay, written by the Wachowski brothers (‘The Matrix’) and based on a graphic novel by Alan Moore, is a little bit ‘1984,’ ‘Count of Monte Cristo’ and ‘The Miserables.’ The result is dialogue that is over the top theatrical. Like old ‘Saturday Night Live’ episodes when Jon Lovitz portrayed the bellowing “thespian” who proclaimed he was ACTING.

Painfully long, the movie follows V’s crusade against Sutler involving a scheme to blow up the Parliament buildings in London, on the anniversary of Guy Fawkes Day (Google ‘Guy Fawkes’ for the history lesson). Since the entire movie is V explaining why he needs to blow up the building as a violent symbolic act of civil disobedience, I got the eerie feeling that V’s logic could have been the kind of rationalization any terrorist would make. That is the movie’s ultimate message – one person’s terrorist is another person’s hero/revolutionary. But ‘V for Vendetta’ tries to up the ante by adding a couple of convoluted revenge stories with needless flashbacks.

Portman has the worst English accent this side of Winona Ryder’s in ‘Dracula.’ Lucky for him, Weaving’s face is hidden throughout the film behind a mask – so his career won’t be tainted by this turkey. V, like the Phantom of the Opera, is terribly scarred, but is a master of martial arts and dagger-throwing. Like any good hokey hero, V is faster with his knives than the police are with their guns.

There’s a funny line in ‘The Incredibles’ which pointed out that villains like to monologue. The Wachowski’s probably didn’t see that movie since both Sutler and V are prone to lengthy butt-numbing speeches. However, the funniest line in ‘V’ has to be when Portman’s character, after suffering from torture and various prison deprivations, cries out, “You cut my hair?”

If the Wachowski name makes you hope for an action movie with pseudo-philosophy like ‘The Matrix,’ look elsewhere. There is a low energy movie, a ponderous simple-minded political drama with little subtlety. FASCISM IS BAD. FIGHT FASCISM. Yes, the message is clear, but there are other forms of protest and activism. Vote with your dollars and avoid ‘Vendetta.’
 
Movie Guru Rating
A train wreck.  So bad some may find it unintentionally entertaining.
  1 out of 5 stars

 
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