V for Vendetta (15)
Time Out says2020: after a devastating viral outbreak has plunged America into civil war, Britain is a repressive fascist state headed by John Hurt’s dictator Adam Sutler. Resistance however, is stirring in the unlikely form of an elusive insurgent known as ‘V’ (Hugo Weaving), whose features hide behind a Guy Fawkes mask. He’s already blown up the Old Bailey, and is promising that Westminster, another emblem of institutionalised injustice, will follow next year. It could be another November 5 to remember, unless Stephen Rea’s dogged state investigator can locate the rebel icon’s secret lair, though the latter may have found an ally in Natalie Portman’s plucky TV researcher, whose bitter past has its telling secrets too.
Alan Moore’s original graphic novel, begun in the early ’80s, reshaped the contours of Orwellian nightmare as an indictment of the Thatcher era, though Moore has disassociated himself from this adaptation by the post-‘Matrix’ Wachowski brothers, who somehow persuaded Warner Bros to bankroll a dystopian anti-Bush onslaught where the bomb-toting good guys cherish the banned Koran and the baddies are the government. Still, audiences may not be rushing from the multiplexes to man the barricades just yet. They’ll have to wake up first, because ideological frissons aside, this is a strikingly soporific debut for the Wachowskis’ former assistant. Tantalising set-up in place, it flounders for the next two hours, desperately piling on exposition and flashback before a truly laughable would-be rabble-rousing finale. Decent performances notwithstanding, this is both visually uninspired (the totalitarian iconography looks like ‘1984’ with LCD screens), and ultimately unpersuasive in its posturing radical chic. For all its anti-establishment esprit, it’s more a case of ‘Z for Zzzz’.
Fri Mar 17, 2006
Cast and crew
Hugo Weaving, John Hurt, Tim Pigott-Smith, Rupert Graves, Roger Allam, Ben Miles, Valerie Berry, Sinead Cusack, Natasha Wightman, John Standing, Eddie Marsan, Natalie Portman, Stephen Fry, Stephen Rea, Clive Ashborn