(*** Note: On the one hand, there are lots of spoilers in this review. On the other hand, the film was terrible. Thumbs way, way, down. So, it’s probably no big deal if you read the review because you’re not going to want to see the movie anyway. ***)
One of the dilemmas conservative critics of Hollywood often have to face is whether to go see movies that they know beforehand are pieces of left-wing agitprop. Personally, I usually choose not to attend, for various reasons. For example, when it came to Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, I figured I’d be bored out of my mind and would spend the whole movie fighting the urge to yell, “But, that’s not true,” at the screen. When it came to Brokeback Mountain…well, I’m just not interested in relationship movies to begin with and I figure that about the only way you could make them worse would be by making the main protagonists gay sheep herders who slap each other around before they start mounting each other in a tent. But, when it came to V for Vendetta, it looked like an action movie and I’d heard Natalie Portman would be dressed up as a school girl at one point — in other words, I thought it sounded tolerable.
Boy, was I ever wrong.
V for Vendetta begins in England, 2020, which is run by fascist Christians who murder gays, exaggerate the threat of terrorism, and who literally appear to listen in on everybody in Britain. If that sounds like some sort of Chomskyian vision of America, that’s because the filmmakers intended it that way. In fact, the film goes out of its way at every turn to draw parallels between the bizarro world left-wing view of how America is becoming and the dystopian Britain of the future.
Political dissidents are jailed, criticism of the government is not allowed, gays are murdered, you see prisoners in Abu Ghraib style hoods, the government carries out germ warfare attacks and blames terrorists for them, the media is controlled by the government, and art is banned. All of this is done by the cartoonishly evil “Conservative” Party which is supported by at least one pedophilic priest, government operatives called “fingers” who apparently rape women for being out after curfew, and armies of generic government thugs.
Into this nightmarish world comes our, “hero,” Osama Bin La…excuse me, V. If you asked a liberal like Michael Moore or Ted Rall to imagine himself as a terrorist, V is what you’d come up with. He’s an extremely intelligent, witty, art lover who also enjoys old music, classic movies, and murdering members of the Conservative party — but only with knives, no guns, presumably because guns should be banned.
Natalie Portman plays Zarqawi to V’s Bin Laden after he rescues her from government rapists and over time, like a college professor instructing a student too naive to realize how “evil” Republicans are, he wins her over to his cause — which is murdering members of the Conservative party and blowing up historic buildings for freedom’s sake.
Now, before I go on, I know what many of you are probably thinking: “Come on, Hawkins, you’re making this review too political. It’s a movie and it’s not even set in America…” What can I say? The movie isn’t subtle. It uses a jackhammer to thunder home its political points. At one point it shows a “Coalition of the Willing” poster with a swastika on it. It blames the current troubles in Britain on, “America’s war.” The whole movie is built over top of the lunatic vision that wild eyed liberals have of America.
In any case, setting aside the, “Terrorism is wonderful and conservatives are evil,” theme of the movie, is it any good? Well, my guess is that the movie going public will break down into three large groups. If you’re conservative, you’ll find it to be a depraved movie. If you’re liberal and maybe a bit twisted, you’ll enjoy the movie because you’ll see it as sticking it to Bush and the fact that it glorifies terrorism, something that will horrify red staters, will make it all the sweeter for you. As far as everyone else goes, my guess is that they’ll just be bored because politics aside, this movie isn’t exactly, “fun for the whole family,” or for that matter, anyone in the family, unless perhaps your last name is Arafat.
There’s precious little action, the villains are bland and cartoonishly evil, and much of the film is wildly implausible. For example, the police officer who spends the whole movie chasing V stands aside willingly in order to allow Parliament to be blown up. In another sequence, Portman’s character is tortured for weeks by V, a man with head to toe burns who doesn’t even bother to disguise his voice, and she doesn’t recognize that it’s him. More implausibly, shortly after he reveals that he was the one torturing her, she apparently starts to fall in love with him. But, even that seems more likely than all of Britain rising up at the call of a terrorist who blew up a building, took over a TV studio while wearing a Palestinian style suicide belt, and then gave one generic speech about freedom.
On the “upside” — if there is an “upside” of some sort to this movie — if you had any doubts about how low Hollywood would sink, this movie should remove them. This movie is the equivalent of making a movie in 1944 that features Nazis saving Americans from a fascist, Jew hating dictatorship that has taken over their country in 1960. What’s next? Maybe a “heroic” pedophile who saves lives by molesting “evil” conservative children? After V For Vendetta, there’s really just no ethical sewer that seems too filthy for Hollywood to happily traipse though.