Did I shave my head for this?

V for Vendetta

reviewed by Steve Sailer

The American Conservative, April 24, 2006

 

A film critic would have to hate George W. Bush awfully bad to praise publicly the ludicrous yet humorless "V for Vendetta," in which a disguised superhero blows up the Houses of Parliament to overthrow the clerico-fascist despotism ruling Britain in 2020. Yet, a big majority of movie reviewers have given their thumbs-up to "V for Vendetta," even though it is just another masochist's fantasy masquerading as a profound political allegory from the Wachowski Siblings, the frauteurs who were to blame for the "Matrix" trilogy.

"V for Vendetta" started out in the 1980s as a "graphic novel" (an expensive, pretentious comic book) by Alan Moore (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) about how Margaret Thatcher would turn England into a totalitarian dystopia by 1997. Well, that didn't exactly happen, so now the Wachowskis have rewritten it as a post-9/11 fable implying that President Chimpy McHitlerBushton will crush all dissent Real Soon Now. Personally, I'd rather endure a Bush press conference than see this movie again.

Remember director Ridley Scott's famous "1984" Super Bowl commercial introducing the Apple Macintosh? Now, imagine that 45-second spot dragged out over 132 minutes. In "V for Vendetta," the Big Brother tyrant ranting about unity and security from a vast video screen is played by John Hurt ("Alien"). An ambitious, deeply religious Conservative politician, he had imposed martial law in the wake of a terrorist virus attack, putting society under the thumb of fanatical Church of England bishops. (According to Google, the phrase "fanatical Church of England bishops" has never been seen before.) The government dispatched all Muslims and homosexuals to concentration camps (although the film forgets to mention how these two victimized minorities got along on the inside).

Fortunately, "V," a masked mutant survivor of a government biological warfare experiment (Hugo Weaving, "Agent Smith" from "The Matrix"), has risen up to challenge the clampdown all by his lonesome. In his underground redoubt, he broods surrounded by banned art works he has liberated from the vaults of the Ministry of Objectionable Material, such as Jan Van Eyck's immortal Arnolfini Wedding Portrait of 1434. You might be asking: why would a reactionary Christian government ban the masterpieces of the pious past? Simple, according to the Wachowskis: because conservatives hate art.

V's reluctant accomplice is portrayed by Natalie Portman. Best known as Queen-Senator Padmé in the recent "Star Wars" whoop-tee-doos, Portman is a graduate of the George Lucas Academy of Dramatic Arts, and it shows. A smart, pleasant young lady offscreen who sadly lacks all charisma onscreen, she ought to go do something else with her life.

Stephen Rea ("The Crying Game") portrays the hangdog Scotland Yard inspector assigned to catch V. But he discovers (prepare to expire of astonishment) that the fascist regime itself actually inflicted the "terrorist" virus epidemic! You can tell that Rea's character will turn out to be on the side of good because he's half-Irish, unlike all those racially reprehensible English Nazis shouting the government's slogan "England prevails!" Eight hundred years of successful English resistance of tyranny don't count for much in the movies because Anglophobia is one prejudice of which today's Hollywood approves.

Although advertised as an action film, "V for Vendetta" consists of two hours of speechifying with a big explosion at the end. It's like "My Dinner with Andre on the Hindenburg."

Still, all that political posturing is mostly for show. Just as the "Matrix" movies were less about philosopher Jean Baudrillard's theory of simulacra than about Carrie-Anne Moss dressing up in black leather and hurting men, the fetishistic point of this film is to imprison, torture, degrade, and shave the beautiful hair off of poor little Natalie Portman's head.

You may have noticed that the silly but well-made 1999 "Matrix" credited "The Wachowski Brothers," while its dire 2003 sequels referred to "The Wachowskis." In 1999, Larry, the elder Wachowski, was living a normal life as a married man, so he had to sublimate his latent perversity into his art. Unfortunately, that blockbuster afforded him the money to transform his inner kinks into grotesque reality. He left his wife and moved in with a dominatrix called Ilsa Strix. Soon, he was dressing as a woman, and rumors circulated that Larry planned to become a Wachowski Sister. Unsurprisingly, the level of imagination in his movies collapsed.

Now, they are at least back to a "Wachowski Brothers" credit, but their films have yet to recover.

Rated R for strong violence and some language.

 

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