DVD Release Date:  August 4, 2006
Theatrical Release Date:  March 17, 2006 (wide)
Rating:  R (for strong violence and some language)
Genre:  Drama
Run Time:  132 min.
Director:  James McTeigue
Actors:  Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea, Stephen Fry and John Hurt

How’s your recollection of high school English?  Need a little brush-up on George Orwell’s “1984”?  No?  Well, how about just a high school movie, then, with some serious violence?  Because “V for Vendetta” is just that – all boring, melodramatic 132 minutes of it.

In this futuristic-yet-current drama, Evey (Natalie Portman) is a coffee-wielding assistant at England’s only television station, which pumps out anti-gay rhetoric, night after night, in the name of “unity and faith,” the mission of the current administration.  After being caught out after curfew, Evey is saved from a gang-rape by a strange, knife-wielding man.  This hero, who quotes Shakespeare and insists on being called “V” (Hugo Weaving), wears a wig and mask fashioned after Guy Fawkes, the revolutionary who attempted to blow up Parliament in 1605, and whose death is still celebrated each year in England by burning him in effigy. 

V coerces Evey to come with him to a rooftop, where he blows up the Old Bailey, London’s famous courthouse.  It is, after all, Guy Fawkes Day (November 5) – and V is one very angry guy.  He then sneaks into the television station and, after single-handedly shutting everyone out of the broadcast room (and killing a few reporters in the process – oh, well), manages to get on air and broadcast his message about the country’s evil government.  V encourages the people to gather outside the Houses of Parliament next year on the same day, wearing Guy Fawkes masks and capes, like him.  He will then, he promises, finish the job that Fawkes started four centuries ago.

V’s message resonates with the populace.  Whether it’s the fact that people are tired of the government or that the director chose just one suburban family and a few drunken bar flies to represent “the populace” – in repeat cutaways throughout the film – is hard to tell.  Either way, V’s got a year to prepare for his mission.  He begins by taking Evey hostage, torturing and abusing her and finally convincing her to become his accomplice.  As a result, she falls in love with him.

Have I mentioned that this movie is based on a comic book for teenage boys?  It’s a “graphic novel” written in the early '80s by a dude named Alan Moore, as a protest against the conservative politics of Margaret Thatcher.  And oh, how evil Thatcher was.  The script, which was penned by the Wachowski brothers (of “Matrix” fame, including its less-than-lustrous sequels) has been updated with anti-Bush rhetoric.  Thank goodness, too.  It’s been a long time since we’ve had an anti-Bush movie.  I was starting to get a little worried about Hollywood.

With the waif-like Evey as his frightening accomplice, V proceeds to kill every person who harmed or abused him years ago, in what appears to have been human experiments like those conducted by Dr. Joseph Mengele, the ruthless Nazi concentration camp doctor from Auschwitz.  (It is during this time that V was severely burned, hence the mask.)  V then sets about waiting for Guy Fawkes Day, as the government continues to search for him and Evey.