Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

C Is for Comic-Book Movie; 'V for Vendetta' an Absorbing Sci-Fi Tale with an Overt Political Agenda

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

C Is for Comic-Book Movie; 'V for Vendetta' an Absorbing Sci-Fi Tale with an Overt Political Agenda

Article excerpt

Byline: MATT SOERGEL

There's a strong, angry political thriller at the heart of V for Vendetta, and a pretty good science-fiction story, too. Too bad the comic-book movie keeps getting in the way - a guy in a mask and a couple of ill-advised action scenes aren't half as interesting as the world the movie inhabits.

Even so, this remains an absorbing yarn for almost two hours, going haywire -- seriously so -- only in its last 15 minutes or so.

The screenplay is from the Wachowski brothers, creators of the Matrix series, and is based on a Thatcher-era graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd.

They've updated it, and how: It's set in a near-future London, where a fascist government rules after promising a fearful populace that it would protect it from all manner of threats.

Citizens accept constant surveillance, art is approved by the state, the Koran is banned and gays are imprisoned and disappeared. There are references to Avian flu, man-made viruses and rendition. The church and government rule, with this motto: "Strength through unity, unity through faith." A portly, pill-popping demagogue dominates the airwaves, and the media report only what the government wants.

And what about America? It's called "the former United States," and it's in shambles, we're told, because of the war it started and the plague it created.

V for Vendetta is the most overtly political movie since Syriana, but it's even more outspoken -- and clear-headed -- than that urgently muddled thriller. It's going to make some furious, but that's what art sometimes does.

Still, it would have been on even stronger footing it there were a little more subtlety to it: The dictator of England (John Hurt) didn't need to look so much like Hitler, didn't need to foam quite so much at the mouth, to be persuasive. Why couldn't the leader have been a seemingly affable type? Now that would have been even scarier, more effective.

Into this world comes a terrorist known only as V, wearing a grinning Guy Fawkes mask in honor of the English antihero who tried to blow up Parliament in 1605. He has a secret hideout where he collects banned art and from which he ventures out to kill the evil in power -- and to blow up buildings. …

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