Thursday, March 23, 2006

A New Perspective

My earlier post had to do with the newly released movie, V for Vendetta. When I was writing the post, I had not yet seen the movie for myself, thus I had to rely on various magazine and online reviews as a basis. Unfortunately, these reviews portrayed a very different Vendetta than what I viewed.
The biggest misperception of these reviews has to do with the character of V. The majority of the articles I read cast the character of V in a very dark light. His role was described as being a "terrorist hero." V is definitely the hero of this film, but a terrorist? When I think of a terrorist, I think of an individual completely lacking of compassion and respect for humanity; someone who will readily take the lives of the unjust and the just -- the guilty and the innocent, in order to fulfill his or her selfish ambitions. V is certainly willing to employ violence as a means to achieving what he believes is his life's purpose, but what is his purpose? It goes far deeper than his own personal vendetta agaist certain government officials (a quest we all grow to understand and respect). He also intends to free his own people from an oppressive totalitarian regime. The first may have been selfish, but the latter is far from it. In this respect, V falls into the same category as William Wallace in Braveheart and Maximus in Gladiator, not Osama bin Laden or Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The film definitely shows a human side to V. He expresses love, sorrow, passion and humor on a more human level than one would expect from a cold-hearted monster with no soul. He does make a controversial suggestion that violence can be used to accomplish good. I find myself agreeing with him.


Comic book heroes are too often portrayed as flawless men and women who are only capable of doing good. We are rarely given the opportunity to look into the darker side of their souls with which every human being on the planet can identify. Not so with V. Like just about every other superhero out there, his identity is molded by a sad, painful past. Instead of running away from his past, he embraces it and allows it to fuel both his quest for revenge and his one-man revolution.
All in all, V is not a killing machine detached from his own humanity. Instead, he is a true hero we can sympathize with and cheer on until the end.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Everything But a Heist


His name is Dalton Russell . He is a bank robber. He exhibits no personality or emotion whatsoever (except when he's yelling at misbehaving hostages). His confidence and calm, cool demeanor is a little unnerving. But deep down, he's just a really nice guy.

Well that's the who. But what, might you ask, is the who actually trying to accomplish?

The perfect bank robbery (cue the "Ooohhhh's" and "Aaahhhh's").

Now to the when. Actually, no one really cares about the when, so we'll just move on to the how. How does the who intend to accomplish the what?

By using any means necessary (Gasp!)

And now, the most important addition to our increasingly gripping plot -- Why does the who intend to . . . oh, forget it.
It's not just because he can. As is the case with all other "villains" of this genre, Mr. Russell (Clive Owen) hides a much deeper motive that serves as the backbone of Spike Lee's Inside Man.

It's up to Detective Keith Frazier (Denzel Washington) to find out what that motive is, before things get out of hand. If he succeeds, 50 hostages will be saved (not to mention a job promotion and paygrade boost). His comrade, Detective Bill Mitchell (Chiwetel Ejiofor), notes the cost of failure: "If this goes down wrong, they're gonna dump this whole mess in your lap."



Of course, a movie of such suspense would not be complete without a good ol' conspiracy. This is where the gritty, self-assured Ms. Madeline White (Jodi Foster) enters the picture. The elderly president of the bank, Arthur Case (Christopher Plummer) hires her out to make sure that his little conspiracy remains under wraps. It's her job to make sure that the contents of a certain safe deposit box remain hidden from both the police and the bank robbers.








Overall, this movie definitely lives up to all of its hype. Great acting by all parties involved. Denzel Washington's sarcasm together with Clive Owen's raw persona are enough to keep you watching for the full two hours.
What will keep you from watching for the full two hours is the never-ending profanity. It seemed to me that 1 out of every 3 words was a four-letter word. Ok, I'm being just a little sarcastic. It was really 1 out of every 4 words. Combined with various vulgar references to certain aspects of human anatomy, the dialogue, at times, can be a wee bit distasteful. If you can get past it, though, I think you'll be impressed with Inside Man's enthralling plotline from beginning to end (especially the end!). And the moral of the story, which also doubles as a teaser . . .

"Be sure your sins will find you out."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Remember, remember, the fifth of November . . .


Being released on March 17 is one of the latest in a long line of comic book-inspired films. V for Vendetta, based on the British comic series "Warrior" (published in the early 1980s) is set within a fascist Great Britain, conquered by Germany in a nuclear World War III. The story centers itself around a deadly, masked freedom fighter known simply as "V" (Hugo Weaving, of Lord of the Rings and Matrix fame). Throughout the film, V single-handedly wages his own war against the powerful totalitarian regime in Britain. But is it merely against the government as a whole? A long string of assasinations within the government indicate a connection and a goal much deeper and far more personal: a vendetta. In a state where individualism and liberty is sacrificed in the name of national security, V is out to reclaim freedom for a people too blinded and fearful to rise up for themselves. Along the way, he rescues Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman), a young woman tortured and nearly murdered at the hands of the secret police. Evey then becomes V's closest accomplice in his quest for freedom and justice.
The tactics by which V intends to fight his one-man revolution raise some very serious questions, though. The "ends justify the means" mentality of blowing up buildings and murdering political officials is an all too familiar reality in our 21st century world, namely in the form of modern terrorism. A review of the film in the March 13 edition of TIME contained this statement by Natalie Portman about the movie's message:

"I think the most important thing is that poeple will go home and fight about it . . . We all realize that at a certain point, violence might be the only means of effectively combatting injustice, but it's always going to be subjective -- what injustice is great enough to provoke you to harm someone else?"

The producers of this movie want us to empathize with V and his struggle. But are we as an audience supposed to cheer on a character whose role is skewed? Is he truly a hero, or is he merely another villain? At one point, V tells Evey, "What [the government] did to me was monstrous," to which Evey replies, "And they created a monster." Let' s apply this concept to our present day. Who are the real villains in this worldwide war on terror?

I personally am convinced that radical extremists who would shed innocent blood in order to appease their religious fantasies, or personal vendettas, are truly the enemies of every free country. V for Vendetta does, however, force us to think on a deeper level about this issue, a level that will definitely make many of us uncomfortable. This is my conclusion: the line between good and evil is not blurred -- it is an absolute, unwavering line set up by a holy God that holds just as much sway today as it did at the beginning of time. No film from Hollywood can erase or rewrite that line.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

New in 2006 . . .