Friday, March 17, 2006

Film - V For Vendetta


V For Vendetta, based on the graphic novels by British writer Alan Moore, is the first new film by the Wachowski Brothers since the final Matrix film. And we know how disappointing that series turned out to be.

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The setting is in the not too distant future in the fascist police state of England, where deviant art, culture and sexual behavior is outlawed and nighttime curfews are strictly enforced. The public broadcaster is essentially the Ministry of Propaganda, and they put the government's spin on events to constantly cover up the truth about crimes of dissention.

Our protagonist wears a Guy Fawkes mask (the guy who tried to blow up the British parliament buildings in 1605) to conceal both his identity and his burned face. He rescues Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman), who was on her way to dinner at a co-workers house, from a sexual attack by the curfew authorities (the "Fingermen".)

By coincidence, they ran into each other again at the public broadcaster's office, where he managed to air a pre-recorded explanation of his "terrorist" demolition of a government building (the Old Bailey, the Central Criminal Court) the night before, which the government tried to cover up by calling it a scheduled demolition. I didn't buy how she bonded easily and agreed to live with this creepy stranger so quickly in his windowless lair/ deviant culture museum.

Natalie Portman was miscast as a Brit and but despite her poor attempt to fake the accent, her performance was all right. Hugo Weaving's "V" character is foiled by the useless cute aliteration in his opening scene as well as his quoting of the Bard to suggest his wit, intellectual depth and the credibility of his largely symbolic mission. John Hurt played the leader of the government, a Hitler-esque fascist, but he was largely one-dimensional. Stephen Rea as detective Finch did the best with his lines.

In the film, there is a conspiracy story regarding human experimentation, deliberate unleashing of deadly viruses, huge profits for the cure, people falsely arrested under the pretense of being terrorists, people concealing deviant sexual lives, etc. The story could have had more impact for me, if there wasn't such an ambitious attempt to stage a spectacle, both visually and story-wise.

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The Wachowski Brothers aren't known for carrying a story with subtlety and intrigue and instead hammer you over the head with action and scenes that could have been edited out. The story seemed squandered rather than focused and tight.

I wouldn't see this film again.

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