***½/**** Image B+ Sound B Extras B-
starring Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea, John Hurt
screenplay by The Wachowski Brothers, based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore & David Lloyd
directed by James McTeigue
by Walter Chaw As documents for the opposition go, V for Vendetta may be the ballsiest, angriest picture of the current administration, flashing without apology images of naked prisoners of the state, shackled in black hoods and held in clear acrylic boxes while a febrile talking head and his cloistered intimates (called "fingers") form a closed fist around them. It surmises a future where the government plants stories in centrally-owned media conglomerates, controlling groupthink by providing just one point of view. Woe be unto those with a critical mind because what, after all, is more dangerous to a dictatorial theocracy than a question? But more, the picture is an impassioned plea for alternative lifestyles, exposing the melodrama of Brokeback Mountain to be embarrassed, even polite, when the struggle for equal regard is something that should be undertaken with passion and brio--it's life and death, and V for Vendetta presents it as such. There are no half measures in a film that takes as its hero an eloquent monologist in a Guy Fawkes mask (Hugo Weaving), his erstwhile, reluctant sidekick a young woman, Evey (Natalie Portman), transformed through the government-sanctioned abduction of her parents and a period of torture and imprisonment into not an avenging angel, but a voice of reason. How fascinating that the reasonable solution in the picture is the destruction of Britain's Parliament on the Thames.