With weekend ticket sales making “V for Vendetta” the country’s No. 1 film, it seems America’s love of comic-book movies has gone beyond mainstream characters and into what is traditionally considered comic-book-fanboy territory.The film is based on a series originally featured in a British comic anthology in the early 1980s, which was later published as its own comic book and later compiled by DC Comic’s Vertigo as a graphic novel.
Inspired by the state of politics in the 80s, “Vendetta” is set in a future London following a major world military conflict that allowed a fascist regime to take over the United Kingdom and oppress political, racial and sexual minorities. While the original work plays out against the backdrop of supply shortages caused by a nuclear winter, the film adaptation shows a complacent society, with luxuries not unlike our own, years after a biological attack killing 100,000 British citizens.
The story follows an anarchist figure in a Guy Fawkes’ mask, V (Hugo Weaving), attacks London landmarks in an attempt to stir people into rebellion. Guy Fawkes was captured in 1605 for attempting to blow up parliament with barrels of gunpowder.
At the beginning of his violent campaign, V saves a young girl, Evey (Natalie Portman), from members of the Gestapo-like fingermen who intend to rape her in an alley for being out past curfew.
Evey’s life becomes intertwined with V’s plot. Though she resists his work at first, memories of her activist parents’ death at the hands of state police keep her torn as to whether V’s methods are right or wrong.
Many critics feel a film depicting a terrorist as a main character is bad taste after the 2005 London terrorist attacks. None of these critics seem to note the stark contrast between recent terrorist attacks, which were aimed at civilians, and the attacks in the film, which only targeted high-ranking government officials buildings while taking due care to avoid civilian casualties. A movie about rebelling against government oppression, like any revolution, will inevitably include terrorism. The nature of it is what makes the difference.
Some conservatives who have seen the film take issue with the Wachowski Brothers’ screenplay, which focuses on the repression of sexual minorities and media coverage of violence and diseases, such as bird flu, being used as tools to control the population.
Though the Wachowskis did not direct the film, their touch is present, especially in the final fight scene. The brothers, one of whom has long been rumored to be transgendered, have obviously colored the film with their own viewpoints, but it does not take away from the fact it is a great story whether you agree with every bit of what is said or not.
Ultimately this superb Orwellian story does just what the main character hopes to do for the citizens of his fictitious world: make them look at what is really happening even if they don’t support his goals.
While one slow motion fight scene may detract from the film slightly, “Vendetta” is everything Matrix fans failed to receive in the final two installments of the trilogy. The Wachowski Brothers have been redeemed.