Pros:Good performances, entertaining, makes you think.
The Bottom Line: Sleep now in the fire.
First things first, do not be surprised if certain people star tearing into V For Vendetta as if it were a Michael Moore film. But why would they do that to a comic book movie one may ask. Because V For Vendetta is not your standard comic book movie.
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V, which has its basis in a graphic novel that was unknown by me until I saw the movie, is about a masked freedom fighter who's out to free the totalitarian England of the future from the rule of a Hitleresque maniac (John Hurt). Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith in the Matrix trilogy) plays our masked avenger.
We first see V at work rescuing Evy Hammond (Natalie Portman) from a group of crooked cops bent on rape. He then shows her some of his other handiwork, which involves blowing up one of London's major buildings.
Evy, at first, is skeptical of the new man in her life especially since the media (whom she works for) has branded him as a terrorist. However, she eventually comes around and sets out to help him in his goal of toppling the totalitarian government.
Portman, so good in movies ranging from The Professional to Garden State, is good again here. Her Evy is fragile yet tough and it's her involvement with V that helps make her even tougher. V himself begins the film as an enigma and remains one at the end. That's not a knock on Weaving, that's more of an observation on how the V character is written. We're told just enough to know him and that's it. In a way that's appropriate for this film, since it was clearly intended as a standalone movie, not as the beginning of a series.
John Hurt as Chancellor Adolph chews down on the scenery as if it were one of those new cheesy bites pizzas from Pizza Hut. From his public addresses to the nation to his behind the scenes conferences with his cronies, everything the character says is completely over the top. In most films this would start to pose a problem after a while mad there are a few moments where Hurt does get to be a little painful. Stephen Rea is good as his Cheneyesque right-hand man as is Roger Allam as a Rush Limbaugh type.
V has lots of good action scenes (Not surprising since the Wachowski Brothers (Who wrote and directed the Matrix trilogy) produced it) , an interesting storyline and great music by the Rolling Stones and Norah Jones (No Rage Against The Machine though. Too bad, since I cant think of a recent movie better suited for Zach De La Rocha and the gang).
How does V stack up against the Matrix trilogy? In terms of quality, its about the same as the original Matrix and way ahead of the two inferior sequels. It actually allows some time for thought, which is something the sequels werent willing to do. Plus the acting is better.
The main drawback to V is that it is rather biased politically. The overall point of V is a good one (Freedom good, authoritarianism bad). However, there are times where the film comes dangerously close to Moore territory as well as a few that may make some viewers (in this post 9/11 world) uncomfortable.
Yet, for the most part, V is a comic book movie that offers more brains than most comic book movies. It keeps audiences thinking as it entertains them. It may not quite reach the level of last year's Sin City. Yet it is still a uniformly good film that should be seen by anyone looking for entertainment with both brains and brawn.
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