The start of the 2006 Summer movie season is here. I hope. "V for Vendetta" was released this weekend and like any loyal comic book/graphic novel fan, I rushed right out to see it. The premise is simple. Set in the future, England is a fascist state run by a ruthless despot (John Hurt) who spits orders over a television screen to a board of shady government officials. "V" (Hugo Weaving) is a terrorist who sports a mask modeled after the visage of Guy Fawkes one of three men who plotted to blow up parliment (and hopefully the monarchy) on November 5th, 1605. He has a penchant for violent action, throwing knives, and Tchaikovsky. During the course of his terrorist plot he befriends a low-level worker for the British Television Network (Natalie Portman).
This film was directed by the Wachowski Brothers (of "The Matrix" Fame) and is based on a graphic novel penned by Alan Moore. Though Moore withdrew his name from the project before release for some unknown reason. Despite their flair for action, the brothers toned down the slow-motion shots and instead elected to paint an effective, frightening picture of england's dystopia. Here you are united by faith in god against those who are different (a.k.a. homosexuals, muslims, etc.) and anything beautiful (art, the qu'ran) is sent to the Beareau of objectionable materials.
If this film sticks closely to Moore's original work, his admiration for literature and art is evident. It ties together best aspects of works such as 1984, the count of mote cristo, Phantom of the Opera, Beauty and the Beast, and Frankenstein (hubris, unnatural creation) . "V" even finds time to quote Shakespeare as he enacts his revenge. All-in-all the film is more entertaining and less thought provoking than I imagined it would be, but that is ok. Sometimes you really want to just root for the protagonist and hope that he succeeds in destroying one of Brittains oldest landmarks.
A few qualms I had with the movie were its plot holes and the poor job it did of explaining to the audience what Guy Fawkes had done and why (this might have been left out for a reason). Also, Natalie Portman stumbles over her faux british accent more than a few times. But ultimately, the film is so sleek and "V" is such an admirable character both for his devotion to the truth and his incredibly human qualites that the movie manages to transcend its faults and make for a great starting point to the 2006 season. Bring it on.