L. Neil Smith's
Number 360, March 26, 2006

A Paper Manuscript

V for Vendetta
A Review by Thomas Creasing

Special to TLE

It promised Vision and Verve. It delivered Violence and Visual. But in the end, it was Vague and Vapid, lacking in Vision.

Hollywood has difficulty doing justice to books and the long awaited V For Vendetta is no exception. The graphic novel is a rousing political discussion, wrapped an a story of adventure and revenge. A story of a man so wronged that he not only exacts his vengence on those responsible for his suffering, but upon their entire political world as well.

The movie, however, is a perfectly routine boilerplate "secret government coverup—psychotic dictator" flick. It has some great special effects—an English friend says, "[T]he exploding Palace of Westminster was, quite literally, jaw-dropping, and left the Independence Day detonation of the Oval Office in the shade." There are also well done scenes from the graphic novel that any reader will recognize and applaud—Evey's imprisonment, Valerie's story—but none of the actual central plot of the original book. None of the anti-State political essence, beyond the occasional nod to "For Your Protection" that clearly isn't working.

Sprinkled through the movie are occasional tidbits that novel readers will recall as leading to discussions or actions regarding individualism and the evils of the State, but much like the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy movie (another stunning example of poor transition to film), unless you have read the book you'll have no idea about "the rest of the story" and, in fact, can be left wondering just what the characters are going on about. So what it comes down to is that a fascinating political treatise, if one can call a comic book that, becomes nothing more than a standard issue Hollywood coverup/shoot'em-up. There's even the addition, fer cryin' out unprintably, of a "love story that changes."

The domino scene in the movie is, as critics have reported, an excellent piece of work. But one has to ask what its purpose was, beyond a neat special effect. The domino scene in the book is metaphor for the human dominoes that V has set up and is about to flick over into an unstoppable chain of events. In the movie, however, there's no sense that V is setting up anything at all. His actions have no more meaning than those of Clint Eastwood's character in, say, Hang 'Em High. Further lacking is the symbolism that was a part of V's killings of the "main" actors—insanity for Prothero, false religion for Lilliman. Only the death scene with Delia, the doctor, bears close resemblance to the original.

It's interesting to see how the mainstream reviewers have been discussing it as something daring and unusual, something that was really on the edge. But there is more anti-State thought and philosophy in one episode of Firefly, though, and we are left only with a shell that is Vague and Vapid.

Too bad. Such promise. But all in ... Vain.



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