V for Vendetta

Great Britain has gone all fascist, again, but don’t worry there is a creepy guy running around in a Guy Fawkes mask lecturing us on the importance of standing up for freedom.  Oh, he also is one heck of a knife fighter and knows how to blow stuff up real good.  Will he and his sidekick, a bald Queen Amidala, be able to defeat the evil Christian fascists or are the conservatives going to get all medieval on their arses?

This is an evil bad film!  Bad, bad, evil, dirty film.  No cookie for this film, no cookie in the least.  Shame, shame!  America and God: rah, rah, hooray!

Um, are the government guys looking anymore?  No?  Good.  Time to get on with the real review then.

So, how do you go about making a film that will tick off the Christian fundies?  If it were Islamic fundies you wanted to tick off, it would be easy: just make a hard-core gay bondage porn flick about the Prophet.  Blamo, you’ve got an instant fatwa on your head.  However, if you do that with Jesus, you get The Passion of the Christ, which apparently the fire and brimstone types love.  Weird.  I guess a different tact is needed.

To tick off the family values crowd, you could start by putting a conservative, openly Christian politician in a black Nazi uniform, replace the swastikas with crosses, and show him speaking to a crowd in a Hitlerian manner.  Then, in defiance of the fact that 1984 was, ostensibly, a warning against socialism and the left wing, make that politician a Big Brother style dictator.  You could make his thugs also be rapists and throw in a bit of priestly pedophilia.  You could sneak in some suggestions that the naked human form is a subject worthy of art and, even better, that homosexuals are people too.  If you can find a way to slip in a lesbian kiss here, you’re golden.  But, just in case that’s not enough, call the Koran “beautiful,” drop some unsubtle hints about how the Bush administration ignored warning signs before 9/11, and—as long as you don’t mind people thinking you’re part of the tinfoil-hat brigade—suggest that maybe the administration had something to do with 9/11.  If your born-again focus group isn’t foaming at the mouth by this point, have the Christian fascists refer repeatedly to the hero as a terrorist.  That should be worth an extra five feet or so of spittle distance.

Of course, were you to do all that and include a guy in a Guy Fawkes mask, you’d get sued by the makers of V for Vendetta for copyright infringement.

While this film gets all kinds of bonus points for engendering arch-con apoplexy, is it a good film? To be sure, it’s as spectacular a nugget of eye candy as you’d expect from producer Joel Silver and writers the Wachowski brothers (who also brought you The Matrix).  There is a good deal of stylish violence and spectacular landmark demolition.  There is a lot of good political and general philosophy here as well—governments derive their power by the consent of the governed, we are all a minority in some way, stare not too long into the abyss, etc.—but the film has an unfortunate tendency to lecture it rather than show it. As entertaining as a lecture by Hugo Weaving is, the man with the most interesting delivery this side of Christopher Walken, and how accurate the lecture is, it’s still going to be eye-roll inducing.

As for the rating, V for Vendetta scores a 4. The importance the film places in individual action, rather than waiting around for a god to do everything for you, is commendable.  The stance the film takes against conservative Christianity is excellent.  So, why not give the film a 5?  Well, for as against conservative Christianity as it is, it doesn’t come flat out and say there is no god.  It doesn’t claim that there is a god either, but it’s much more of an anti-intolerance work than an anti-theist one.  A film needs to be both to get that much coveted 5.