RS:3.5 of 4 Stars Average User Rating:3.5 of 4 Stars
The DVD release of V for Vendetta — in a spiffy two-disc widescreen special edition — comes just in time to remind us of what we've been missing in this summer's refried epics: originality and ballsy ambition. Written by the Wachowskis — Andy and his brother Larry — and directed by first-timer James McTeigue, their assistant on The Matrix — the film flies on a rhythm all its own. There's nothing Neo about V, the masked avenger who uses bombs, daggers and his telegenic charisma to take down a futuristic regime that has left him a burned remnant of its ungodly experiments. Hugo Weaving — Agent Smith in the Matrix movies — plays this terrorist grandmaster behind a fiberglass mask that makes his vocal wit and physical eloquence doubly remarkable. The source is the 1989 graphic novel by David Lloyd and Alan Moore that skewered the 1980s England of Margaret Thatcher. In the Wachowski update, England is a police state ruled by a Brit Bush (John Hurt) who strips citizens of their civil rights in exchange for protection from bioweapons of mass destruction. Here is an action film that is not afraid to stop for thoughtful debate, a wry laugh or a lesson on how to fry an egg for a pretty girl. That girl would be Evey (a revelatory Natalie Portman), a slave at a TV network. V's politicization of Evey is the film's core. V is inspired by Guy Fawkes (one of the DVD extras provides historical background), the Catholic vigilante who tried to blow up Parliament on November 5th, 1605. V is determined not to fail. The climax will give your DVD sound system a hell of a workout. But the fireworks are just icing on the cake. V is powered by ideas that are not computer-generated.