V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta

Rated 3.0

I’ve never been exposed to the British graphic novelist Alan Moore’s early-'80s piece that served as source material here, so all I can do is gauge V for Vendetta solely on its own relative merits and demerits. Although I will note that Moore has distanced himself from this adaptation, I also will note that he has been ill-used by the Hollywood machine that took stabs at his previous work (Swamp Thing and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), so he at least has producible cause for his antsiness.

V for Vendetta the movie, however, is a heavy-handed message movie ultimately betrayed by its own self-imposed superhero silliness. The superhero in charge of this venue is V, a sad sap mutated by the gub’ment into some … well, it’s not clear. He gets superhero powers of some sort and manages to wield a nifty blade or two while ponced up in Guy Fawkes drag (Historical Footnote 101: Fawkes was a prototype terrorist who in 1605 tried to blow up the British Parliament with a buttload of gunpowder. He serves as sort of a punk antihero to this day in Britain.) Drag is a convenient tag in this flick as it diverges from basic narrative to ham-fisted side trips into how much it sucks to be gay in a futuristic dystopian society held under the iron thumb of a fascist dictator.

V for Vendetta at least gets irony points for promoting Winston Smith (John Hurt in 1984’s 1984) as the figurehead promoting Benito Mussolini’s prototype of fascism: the unholy trinity of the corporate, the church and nationalism. Sound familiar? If it doesn’t, V for Vendetta will pound it in for you.

It’s sort of intriguing in a sad way but nothing new (kind of like a DC Comics version of Fahrenheit 911)—unless you are a complete and total idiot. Unfortunately, it ultimately comes across solely as a call to arms for paunchy 30-somethings still dwelling in the basement of their parents’ house. Wow, now there’s a movement with legs. “Come and see the violence inherent in the system. Help! Help! I’m being re—ooh, look! Downloadable Turanga Leela porn!”

Essentially, it’s nothing more than a conspiracy theorist’s mash-up of Phantom of the Opera and 1984. Too bad. The message could have rocked. As it is, it’s not bad, but it’s not good.