I am on record as being a big fan of James McTeigue‘s V For Vendetta but I am beginning to have a big problem with some of the critics out there who are trashing this film in less than critically intelligent ways. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with people disliking films that I like or vice versa but it seems like many of these nay-saying, V-hating critics are viewing the picture without any sense of context or history. V For Vendetta is the third in a series of truly progressive-bordering-on-the-radical films released by Warner Bros., following on the heels of Good Night, and Good Luck and Syriana, both of which I loved. In fact I would go so far as to say that the three of them ought to be released in a box set with commentary by Noam Chomsky, Studs Terkel and Frank Rich in addition to commentary by the filmmakers.
Last Wednesday I saw V For Vendetta for the second time and I have to say, it’s even better and harder hitting on repeat viewings. Once you’ve seen the film and know how things turn out, on a second trip certain scenes and images are even harder hitting than they were the first time and your appreciation for how the film plays out grows. I’m not giving anything away by saying that the section of the film where Natalie Portman‘s head is shaved is absolutely brutal on a second viewing. I also want to correct something I said in my earlier review of the film.
Remember remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why the gunpowder treason,
Should ever be forgot…
-poem taught to British schoolchildren to help them remember their history
By way of introduction, those of you expecting a full-out action film better readjust your expectations. While not as demanding of your synapses and gray matter as say, Syriana, James McTeigue‘s V For Vendetta contains equal measures of political thriller and crime drama along with its action sequences and the political, moral and social issues raised in the film are ideas with which everyone on this planet should concern themselves.
By the way, it’s outstanding.
The (anti) hero of this piece, V (Hugo Weaving) is a violent, vindictive, unforgiving assassin bent on revenge for a wrong done him (and possibly many others) in years past. He will stop at almost nothing to accomplish his goals, personal and national in scope, and is the epitome of “the ends justify the means.” That said, he is also sentimental, erudite, emotionally vulnerable and a patriot of the highest order. Oh, did I mention that he wears a Guy Fawkes mask for the entire picture? Not your every day movie hero, V styles himself after Fawkes, the 17th century English Catholic who, with 12 others plotted to blow up the English Parliament building to protest Protestant rule. Fawkes and his fellow plotters were captured and executed (hung, drawn and quartered, no less) and Fawkes is still burned in effigy each November 5th.