V for Vendetta

Rated 2.0

Don’t believe the hype. All this muddled movie has to offer is more numbly regurgitated, willfully cartoonish pop political commentary—as if belaboring the semantic confusion between freedom fighter and terrorist were a revolutionary idea. Scripted, perhaps inevitably, by Matrix-makers Larry and Andy Wachowski and directed by their first assistant from that trilogy, James McTeigue, this tale of a masked crusader (Hugo Weaving) battling an intolerant autocracy was adapted from the serious-minded 1980s serial comic and cheaply updated with post-Iraq talking points. Weaving’s V, a sort of prog-goth swashbuckler vigilante and weird amalgam of choice antiheroes from sagas past, is handy with dagger-intensive martial arts and with florid, pseudo-intellectual fortune-cookie-style aphorisms. Naturally, he charms a young and pliable fantasy object—uncritically or accidentally well-played by Natalie Portman—and together they host a revolution. McTeigue stages it less as anarchy in the U.K. than as a commercial for anti-allergy medication: People take off their masks, look up into the middle distance and breathe easy at last. Sure.