V FOR VENDETTA is a sci-fi comic book movie about a violent terrorist-protagonist who engages in violence to overthrow a totalitarian fascist government with Christian overtones. The totalitarian government depicted in the movie also has overtones of comparison to the Bush administration in the U.S., including its fight against terrorism. As such, V FOR VENDETTA is clearly on the side of President Bush’s non-religious critics, whose tactics sometimes seem to give aid and comfort to the terrorists instead of contributing honest political criticism.
The narrative takes place in futuristic Britain, which has become an Orwellian 1984-type society controlled by a corrupt state that oppresses and manipulates its citizens with fear-tactics, hellfire-and-brimstone religious rhetoric and a media-machine akin to the Nazi’s Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. The totalitarian government is headed by Chancellor Adam Sutler (John Hurt), a temperamental demagogue who addresses the nation via strategically placed TV screens, delivering rousing speeches about the importance of his administration’s policies, as well as stern warnings about God’s impending judgment upon the wicked. Sutler is both conservative and religious, which is reflected in his administration’s slogan, “Strength through unity, unity through faith.” Under Sutler’s leadership, the government persecutes homosexuals, executes those found with copies of the Koran, engages in state-sanctioned torture, and participates in bio-terrorism.
It‘s under these conditions that a masked vigilante, known only as V (Hugo Weaving), plots to spur a revolution, which begins when he bombs two London landmarks and temporarily hacks into the government-controlled airwaves. V announces his goal to blow up Parliament exactly one year later, and beseeches his fellow citizens to join his coup d’etat. Shortly after his message, the mysterious rebel eludes the pursuit of the government’s Secret Police, and rescues Evey (Natalie Portman) in the process. While initially afraid of V’s sermons endorsing revolution through death and destruction, Evey is eventually indoctrinated by V’s silver-tongued charm and becomes his improbable protégé.
V FOR VENDETTA is based on a graphic novel by left-wing British writer Alan Moore, who has already seen several movies adapted from his works, including FROM HELL, THE LEAGUE OF EXTRODINARY GENTLEMEN and CONSTANTINE. Moore has publicly distanced himself from each of his big-screen adaptations (all of which have been failures), most recently calling V FOR VENDETTA “rubbish” after reading the screenplay. Discerning viewers will certainly agree that V FOR VENDETTA is indeed rubbish, albeit probably for different reasons than Moore’s.
The leader of oppression in the movie has been updated from the Margaret Thatcher-influenced administration in Moore’s comics to a post-911 George W. Bush. Overtly teetering on the furthest edge of the political left, screenwriters Andy and Larry Wachowski paint their villain with many of the negative qualities alleged by Bush’s opponents (Sutler is deceptive, homophobic and a religious-fanatic), and add a fair share of Nazi-inspired imagery. Like most bad art, their agenda is as subtle as a heart attack, and their thinly veiled propaganda is as offensive as their screenplay’s evil antagonist.
As Bush-backlash political movies continue to roll out off the Hollywood assembly line, V FOR VENDETTA may be the most ridiculously pretentious of the bunch. Are we so far removed from 911 that Americans can be asked to stomach a movie in which the hero is a violent terrorist and the victims are Muslims oppressed by a hyper-fundamentalist Christian government? Do they expect Americans to support a movie in which the Koran is described as “beautiful,” homosexuality is glorified and Christian leaders are depicted as lunatics and pedophiles? Perhaps director James McTeigue and the brothers Wachowski suffer from some sort of mental dyslexia, because they seem to have their villains, heroes and victims miserably reversed.
To be fair, it should be pointed out that the movie is not without its rations of creative attributes. The art direction is often impressive, including a visually interesting scene with dominoes falling (and fireworks exploding) to form a “V.” Action aficionados have plenty of well-choreographed fighting scenes to appreciate, and culture vultures, hipsters and aspiring intellectuals will have their credentials affirmed when they recognize the movie’s nods to the Velvet Underground, William Blake and Max Ernst. More often, however, they will be annoyed by the screenplay’s pseudo-intellectual jargon such as “Beneath this mask there are ideas, and ideas are bulletproof,” and “When you have no fear, you are completely free.” It’s a wonder they didn’t include other deceptively-empty statements such as “Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten” or “Give peace a chance.”
Ultimately, V FOR VENDETTA is an expensive work of atheist, leftist propaganda that’s probably destined to lose money. The movie’s very strong politically correct humanist worldview, elements of graphic violence promoting terrorism, homosexual content, anti-Christian sentiments, and very strong foul language will offend Christians, conservatives and other media-wise, savvy moviegoers.
V FOR VENDETTA is also a very scary and dangerous movie because it is liable to incite more political terrorism by Muslim fanatics and left-wing ideologues. Of course, contrary to the skewed political theories in the movie, Parliament is actually a symbol of democracy, not totalitarianism. And, fascism is actually a left-wing, atheist heresy, not a development of Christianity. Finally, the Koran is not a beautiful religious text, but a deceitful, hateful one that leads its followers away from God and away from God’s Law, Grace and Truth.