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Overall Rating
3.91

Awesome46.09%
Worth A Look: 25.39%
Average: 13.28%
Pretty Bad: 4.3%
Total Crap: 10.94%

16 reviews, 160 user ratings


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V for Vendetta
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Turns 'individuality is good' into 'Bush is evil.' Very beside the point."
3 stars

In "V for Vendetta," screenwriters/producers Andy and Larry Wachowski (of the Matrix trilogy) pour all of their fear and loathing of the Bush administration into a dystopian melodrama. The problem is, this particular story shouldn't be about the Bush/Cheney gang.

British writer Alan Moore, mapping out the original V comic book in the early '80s, aimed his barbs straight at the heart of the Thatcher government. And his tale was less about political alarmism than about a romantic carpe diem ethos in which the anarchy of individuality trumps the jackboot of conformity. Obviously that's a theme close to the hearts of the siblings who pitted Neo against computer domination. But it gets lost amid too much thunder, not enough poetry, and too many senseless additions to or subtractions from Moore's narrative.

As in the comic, a dark loner known only as V (Hugo Weaving) prowls London in a cloak and a mask patterned after Guy Fawkes, who famously tried to blow up Parliament in 1605. It's the near future, and England is under a totalitarian regime that rose from the ashes of war and plague. (America, we're told, is a shadow of its former self.) V's mission is to wipe out the fascist machine and restore control to the people. He warms up by blowing up Big Ben, and later commandeers the government-controlled British broadcasting system to deliver his message to the oppressed and oppressors alike. He also rescues young Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman) from rapist policemen and whisks her back to his lair, full of banned pop culture like Julie London on the jukebox and The Count of Monte Cristo on the telly.

So far, so good. But the Wachowskis (who gave this project to their longtime assistant director James McTeigue to helm) don't have much to say beyond Totalitarianism = Bad, Freedom = Good. Alan Moore made an eloquent case for art surviving the maw of conformity: "Anarchy must embrace the din of bombs and cannon-fire," his V soliloquized, "but always must it love sweet music more." The Wachowskis hit some of the same notes, but they don't come anywhere near Moore's sweet music. Some of their additions are rubbish: Stephen Fry turns up as Evey's noble boss at the network, who has a secret stash of contraband political art and puts together a Benny Hill-style program viciously satirizing the regime's chancellor (John Hurt). Does he think he won't be dragged away and shot for this? Or is he trying to go out in a contemptuous blaze of glory? The film doesn't make it clear. When the script sticks close to Moore -- as in a bravura anecdote about Valerie, a lesbian movie star turned casualty of the homophobic regime -- it works best. Which, sadly, is seldom.

The look of V for Vendetta is perfect: blooms of orange fire at midnight, reflected off black latex and sharp steel. The film is a fine Viking funeral for the late cinematographer Adrian Biddle (who shot Aliens and Thelma & Louise; he died in 2005 after completing this film). And I'd be lying if I said the movie's bracketing sequences of bomb-gasm didn't give me a surge of adrenaline; it's hard not to succumb when the "1812 Overture" bellows in accompaniment. (It sounds cheesy on paper, but plays beautifully.) But the film is a muddle, a victim of trying to shoehorn too much incident from a ten-issue comic series into a 132-minute film, and adding irrelevant things like the secret origin of the plague that befell London. If the analogy to the Bush America is meant to hold up all the way, the filmmakers sidle up to suggesting that the White House engineered 9/11 for political gain. Even Michael Moore didn't take it that far.

The heavy breathing in the press over whether V for Vendetta "glorifies terrorism" is a smokescreen. V only blows up empty buildings and only kills those who have done a lot to deserve his vengeance (or who try to kill him); he's not a terrorist, he's a garden-variety vigilante, only the thugs he takes down are enemies in high places. The various heroes in Sin City (also based on graphic novels) did much the same thing, on a smaller scale. And the theme of the little guy against the evil machine is nothing new, needless to say: Orwell, Bradbury, Terry Gilliam, and many others have walked this path before. This movie simply doesn't add much to the gallery of dystopian art -- where Moore's book already hangs quite prominently -- aside from an embittered topicality that will look rather dusty in a decade or so.

It's capably acted -- Stephen Rea sags expressively as the inspector on V's trail; Portman carries off Evey's arc from naļf to radical with aplomb. But the film shouts when it should sing. Bombastically insecure, it treats the audience like V treats Evey, preaching condescendingly and instructing us to watch the fireworks. But, as it has been translated and condensed for multiplex consumption, it really has no deeper meaning beyond the fireworks.

"V for Vendetta" was denounced in some quarters as dangerous and irresponsible. I'll bet the Wachowskis would love to think it is. But at heart it's as unwittingly conformist as those rebellious throngs of British citizens at the end, wearing their identical Guy Fawkes masks and cloaks, an army of Vs unknowingly obliterating their own individuality (a touch that was not in the book) for the sake of a cool visual.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=13855&reviewer=416
originally posted: 12/25/06 07:47:36
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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

7/10/14 zcjhnrbcvpi USA 4 stars
5/18/14 AldoStolley USA 3 stars
5/05/14 EmeldaDuford USA 2 stars
5/05/14 RickeySpeers USA 5 stars
4/06/14 HolliSteinhart USA 3 stars
1/26/14 kcpqqg USA 2 stars
7/05/11 Dr.Lao Entertaining but undistinguished entry into the done-to-death "future dictatorship" genre 3 stars
5/29/11 Shaun A Powerful vision that left me breathless and thoughtful. 5 stars
5/28/11 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
9/24/10 art V reminded me of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA! 3 stars
3/03/10 KGBproduced Have I just seen a film or a Soviet reel leveling all ills on religion and the bourgoisie? 1 stars
1/30/10 art V FOR VERY BAD!,is more like it! 1 stars
11/23/09 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
4/03/09 Gorgon Zola An unbelievably clunky snoozer. Angst driven, poorly scripted and painful acting by Portman 1 stars
2/13/09 Peter North I'd like to drop my dynamite in Evey's V....... 5 stars
8/19/08 Shaun Wallner This ones ok. 3 stars
8/03/08 Samantha Pruitt deep and awesome movie with a great story and acting! 4 stars
6/20/08 thismoviesucks most pretentious movie I've seen, terrible waste of time 1 stars
5/28/08 PAUL SHORTT VERY MUCH NON-RECOMMENDED 1 stars
5/26/08 zenny zestfully sticking it to the man 4 stars
3/25/08 emissario666 Good, but not as deep as the original 3 stars
2/29/08 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne How low hath Queen Amidala sunk -- unto sucking her own turds in this muck! 1 stars
12/08/07 yżlmaz perfect 5 stars
11/10/07 g webster not what I expected,extremely well done all around! 5 stars
11/09/07 il-Palazzo V is such a badass. 5 stars
7/10/07 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
7/04/07 Rocko Livingston Very very very nicely done! 5 stars
6/30/07 Mark Leonard Very surprised! Very well acted, superb music, gripped me all the the way through. 4 stars
6/19/07 rishy one of the greatest movies ever made. thought-provoking 5 stars
5/06/07 WCC Complete liberal propaganda. pot calling kettle black. 1 stars
4/13/07 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
2/22/07 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
2/07/07 The chode Badass, the dialouge was so good its rediculous. 5 stars
1/11/07 Jake This movie is the complete and utter shit. 5 stars
1/09/07 Gerard Revengeful ! 5 stars
1/07/07 Quicksilver Interesting thoughts on totalitarianism married to long sequences of boredom 4 stars
1/02/07 Todd Fucking cool as hell, not what I was expecting 5 stars
12/12/06 Angela Saunders One of the most thought provoking films of the year. Surprisingly great!!! 5 stars
12/06/06 mel watkins a movie for our times 5 stars
11/19/06 lou a.m.a.z.i.n.g. one of the best films ever. 5 stars
10/29/06 R.W.Welch Paranoid and propagandistic but some good perfs. C+ 3 stars
10/20/06 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
10/06/06 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
9/21/06 daveyt what a load of old tosh... 1 stars
9/17/06 Open/Eyes Fear & Control or Fear of Control? Fair warning... 4 stars
9/14/06 Patrick Petty I found this film great, very thought provoking, reminds me of the times we live in. 5 stars
9/07/06 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
8/26/06 james burke Best of 2006 thus far, visually well rendered, superb cast, great material, and relevant 5 stars
8/24/06 AnnieG Very good adaption of the graphic novel. 4 stars
8/24/06 Freedom Loved the movie. "WOW" Could that be our Gov.? This movie could be a BIG eye opener. 5 stars
8/21/06 Gene Awesome 5 stars
8/19/06 ALDO A few good scene but mostly way 2 boring.. TOO much Blah blah blah 2 stars
8/19/06 Mary Beth great on Imax 5 stars
8/17/06 matt a few good parts but mostly just dull 3 stars
8/14/06 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
8/09/06 Charles Stroud V for Vendetta is move than a movie, its a conception that fans the flames of liberty. 5 stars
8/09/06 Anastasia Beaverhausen Finally, kook liberal paranoids get their film 1 stars
8/08/06 Viper Did Michael Moore write this preposterous rubbish 2 stars
8/07/06 TreeTiger Good movie - go rent it..! 5 stars
8/06/06 davood dreadful,rubbish,awfull,waste of time 1 stars
8/06/06 Charles Strout For all who love freedom, and risk their lives for it. This movie will embrace you're soul 5 stars
8/04/06 philby john Impressive 5 stars
7/30/06 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
7/16/06 Reklc It appeals to me so I'm an idiot (and proud to be one)! 5 stars
7/13/06 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
6/23/06 LAUREANO VERY MEANINGFULL AND ORIGINAL 5 stars
6/23/06 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
5/18/06 Alfred Guy Tried to be different and that's a good thing. 4 stars
5/16/06 TyrantisTerror More like V for OMFG AWESOME! Yeah, I know it doesn't make sense. Shut up. 5 stars
5/15/06 Jonny K Excellent Film on every level 5 stars
5/11/06 zaw Great movie, I came from a Socialistic country. Top of my list too! 5 stars
5/11/06 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
5/09/06 Tranquil Better than I expected, engrossing story and plot development. 4 stars
5/06/06 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
5/03/06 liz amato awesome movie, best i have seen 5 stars
5/01/06 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
4/26/06 Clayton Smith this movie is at the top of my list 5 stars
4/23/06 Mase Long in the tooth, not entirely engaging. But has a bold vision. 3 stars
4/22/06 Pat Frederick Totally enjoyed the movie! It was really engrossing! 5 stars
4/21/06 Anthony G Best movie of the year. 5 stars
4/21/06 Hilary 5-star!! Absolutely awesome!! 5 stars
4/21/06 T I thought it was a great movie. I reflected on our own US gov't. 5 stars
4/20/06 malcolm too long. heavy-handed. 3 stars
4/19/06 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
4/10/06 Ty awesome!! awesome!! 5 stars
4/10/06 the untrained eye This is a movie, not a comic book. Repeat. Then enjoy. 4 stars
4/07/06 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
3/30/06 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
3/29/06 John extremly entertaining, well made and applicable - good stuff 5 stars
3/29/06 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
3/28/06 Danny Johanson This movie was very entertaining and did deliver everything i thought it would. 5 stars
3/28/06 Riki Slow in the beginning, but picks up 4 stars
3/28/06 herkos akhaion Complex story is not clearly delivered 3 stars
3/28/06 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
3/25/06 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
3/23/06 AE Smart thought-provoking cautionary fable 4 stars
3/22/06 Bullwinkle Worth the $5 matinee, def. needed more action though 4 stars
3/22/06 Ole Man Bourbon The world through the eyes of a paranoid schizophrenic? Had its moments though. 3 stars
3/22/06 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
3/21/06 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
3/20/06 gui awesome 5 stars
3/20/06 Rocky Intelligent flick, fiercely anti-authoritarian...really makes you think 4 stars
3/20/06 PeterV2 The parrallels may be updated, but they are still intriguing. 5 stars
3/20/06 Doug Good 4 stars
3/20/06 Matt Very enjoyable, even better on the IMAX. 4 stars
3/20/06 your worst goddamn nightmare This flick was better than the original comic book!!! Not shittin' you.... 5 stars
3/19/06 Agent Sands More creative and inventive and fresh than it thinks it is. 4 stars
3/19/06 mary oh boy i liked this..so much fun , truth, wonderful acting, great message, prophetic, soon 5 stars
3/19/06 great portman was excellent but the film was just average, boring ending 2 stars
3/19/06 Jesse Excellent thinking movie with some nice plot twists. 5 stars
3/19/06 Vicious Uncomprimising, intelligent, visually adept and all around excellent. 5 stars
3/19/06 Chomp Outstanding movie. 5 stars
3/19/06 Heather Great movie 5 stars
3/19/06 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
3/18/06 julia wonderfully entertaining and fun 5 stars
3/18/06 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
3/17/06 djacosta Mind blowing! 5 stars
3/17/06 brian damn awesome 5 stars
3/15/06 archie Masterpiece! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  17-Mar-2006 (R)
  DVD: 01-Aug-2006

UK
  17-Mar-2006

Australia
  30-Mar-2006



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