V for Vendetta

Any and all discussion of movies may contain spoilers - read at your own risk!

There are those who will tell you that this movie is a bold, brilliant political statement. That it's important. That it means something, like Richard Dreyfuss' mashed potatoes. This is not exactly true. It's not exactly untrue, either.

On the whole, it's a good movie -- better than I expected it to be. And in many ways it succeeds. It's very timely. I didn't have a whole lot of difficulty imagining John Hurt's lines as the leader of the fascist regime coming out of the mouth of George W. Bush, that's for sure. That said, as much as I loathe and despise the current administration, we're pretty far from fascism. And seriously, how bold and brilliant can a political statement be when it boils down to, "fascism sucks!"?

The original comic book had more to it than "fascism sucks." It was more about the difficulty humanity seems to have in breaking out of a cycle of violence-as-answer. The government is violent, so V reacts with violence, so the government becomes more violent still, and so on and so forth in and endless escalation. This is where the film breaks down at least a little, especially at the end. The army of Londoners in Guy Fawkes maskes, striking image though it may be, doesn't really work. The concept of V's actions leading to mass revolt is something Alan Moore wisely avoided. In their screenplay, The Wachowski Bros. sadly fell into that all-too-easy facile solution. The thing is, the nature of the story isn't about easy answers, it's about difficult choices.

Still, the image of an army of Londoners in Guy Fawkes masks rebelling against their fascist oppressors is striking and rousing. I don't think it really works, but it's pleasing on an emotional level. And this is, altogether, a very good movie. Natalie Portman is quite good. Hugo Weaving does as well as anyone can while trapped behind an expressionless mask for the entire movie, and his voice is definitely right.

Interesting, also, to see John Hurt playing what amounts to Big Brother, more than twenty years after playing Winston Smith in "1984."