Two home-run reviews of V for Vendetta popped up this week, and even though the film is already fading, I thought them worth a read:
L. Michael Foote reviews V for Vendetta for Stylus. (Caution: Harsh language)
Merely replacing the simplistic morality of one political system for another, the people of England never honestly question their own circumstances. Finally realizing that something is wrong with their society, citizens leap at the vague beliefs of a man who gains their attention by hijacking national television for five minutes. When a mob wearing identical masks descends upon their oppressive government, the people prove to be naught but an easily malleable symbol. When the group drops their disguise and the camera briefly scans a sea of faces, characters martyred for V’s cause appear cheering among the crowd. These people are but symbols used to achieve a goal. Anonymous and singular, the mass is there to be manipulated.
John Zmirak (Godspy) says that for most types of moviegoers, “this movie will remain, like The Matrix, a harmless fantasy.”
But he adds this:
…there’s another group of people who might see this film whom I worry about: the marginally paranoid, disaffected ‘losers’ who serve as the recruitment pool for extremists and terrorists. Think of Timothy McVeigh, who read a single novel — The Turner Diaries — and began to plan the bombing of Oklahoma City. Or the ‘shoe-bomber’ Richard Reid, a Moslem convert whom millions of air-travelers would like to beat to death with their footwear. Or the assemblage of social misfits which Al Qaeda was able to recruit for the attacks in 2001.
To these people, a film with lines like “Sometimes blowing up a building can change the world” is like a dose of crystal meth. What makes things worse is the fantasy element in the film: No innocent bystanders are killed, no children blown apart by the indiscriminate use of explosives in a crowded city, no hospitals filled up with bloodied old people, janitors, and pregnant women. The acts of terror depicted are welcomed by the populace, which greets each explosion as the onset of liberation — and fills the streets in Guy Fawkes masks to show its support. Was this how the residents of Madrid, London, or New York City greeted the terrorist attacks of the past few years? Of course not. They were greeted with outrage and justified indignation — and crackdowns on civil liberties. But the daydream of vindication so powerfully woven in this film might help efface those realities in the addled minds of men predisposed to destruction and desperate to “make a difference.”