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Movie looks at terrorism vs. heroism

March 21, 2006|by ROWAN COPLEY

MOVIE REVIEW: "V forVendetta"Rated R for violence and language

A quotation from "V for Vendetta" sums up the movie's theme: "People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people."

In these somewhat dark days after Sept. 11, a huge motivator for actions is fear. Borrowing amply from the German Third Reich and George Orwell's "1984," the filmmakers imagine a world where civil war breaks out in America and British citizens are controlled by a fascist government.

It is a clever political thriller attempting to subvert our ideas about freedom fighters versus terrorists, adapted from Alan Moore's 20-year-old graphic novel by Andy and Larry Wachowski, who made "The Matrix."

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The concept for "V for Vendetta" uses the story of Guy Fawkes - an English villain-hero who attempted to blow up Parliament 400 years ago. The film sets the modern story with a great scene that synopsizes Fawkes' plot and goes on to suggest that trying to change a fascist government through violent means might be noble.

The first half of the movie deals with V - a man dressed in a Guy Fawkes mask - and with his victims, his desire to blow up Parliament and the police investigation into V. The second half delves into back stories of major characters: Inspector Finch (Stephen Rea), who searches for V; Evey (Natalie Portman), a woman V saves from secret police; and Valerie (Natasha Wightman), a victim of genetic experimentation.

Some might complain of its length - clocking in at 132 minutes - but I enjoyed every minute. It's a bleak and dark movie, but the best thing about it is the story, which is intelligent and understandable. However, the movie has just enough Hollywood clich for it to be a fairly good movie but not one of the great films.

A few things bothered me, such as the infallibility and self-righteousness of V. The ending was a low point for me. It was short and sweet and wrapped up loose ends, but it felt overblown and artificial, not consistent with the rest of the film.

Nonetheless, "V for Vendetta" is definitely worth seeing; it might make you a better citizen.

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