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Tag: Hugo Weaving

QuickView: Mortal Engines (2018)

Mortal Engines poster

“We have to stop London before it destroys us.”

Anna Fang

Written by Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson, and directed by Jackson’s protégé, there were clearly high hopes that Mortal Engines would spark a new blockbuster fantasy film franchise. There is creativity in the absurd notion of roving motorised cities in a post-apocalyptic landscape, and seeing a monstrous London chase down and swallow a smaller town whole provides breathtaking spectacle. The world building on display is truly impressive. Unfortunately the script struggles to balance this against compelling storytelling when we don’t care about the characters as individuals, the stakes drop considerably. Hugo Weaving is the film’s strongest presence, charismatic and driven. Fresh big budget spectacle is a welcome change in an industry beholden to sequels but Mortal Engines fails to justify further investment.


QuickView: Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

“With the world so set on tearing itself apart, it don’t seem like such a bad thing to me to want to put a little bit of it back together.”

Desmond Doss

The story of Desmond Doss, a pacifist who enlisted in the US army as a medic during World War II, ironically brings with it some of the goriest depictions of battle injuries to date. The film wisely lingers on Desmond’s life before the war for long enough that we understand both his sense of morality and his acceptance that others see him as unusual. Andrew Garfield deserves praise not for the awkward charm he displays, but the troubled conviction beneath it. We see the harshness of training through his eyes, although it is clear the senior officers’ hostility is borne of confusion and protectiveness over the other men in their charge. Once his unit ships out, the initial assault on Hacksaw Ridge is powerfully filmed but less personal and less compelling. That changes dramatically in the aftermath as we see Doss’ heroic bravery, scouring the battlefield under artillery fire and evading enemy patrols, for which he became the first man to earn a US Medal of Honor without firing a shot.


QuickView: The Interview (1998)

“I’m interrupting this interview for the purpose of making further inquiries.”

John Steele

A taut Australian crime thriller set almost entirely within the confines of a police station as two overzealous officers try to extract a confession, while the audience questions whether they are watching an innocent man bullied or a devious criminal toying with his captors. Hugo Weaving plays both sides of the role to chilling effect. Often reminiscent of The Usual Suspects, the budgetary restrictions on the scope arguably serve to aid the atmosphere, together with a sombre score.


V For Vendetta (2006)

director: James McTeigue
starring: Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea, Stephen Fry, John Hurt
running time: 132 mins
rating: 15

V For VendettaA Catholic who lights fireworks on the 5th of November, blissfully unaware of the irony, is not wrong, merely telling. V’s continual references to Guy Fawkes, not least in his masked visage, undoubtedly flew over the heads of most American viewers and may have been largely a distraction. Yet even in the UK we have largely forgotten him, as the film itself points out. Resurrecting the figure as an icon, V For Vendetta is based loosely upon a comicbook by Alan Moore (who, as usual, has distanced himself from the project), translated by the Wachowskis into a near future that more closely parallels our own timeline.

While the former USA is in chaos, 2020 England is held together by a totalitarian government who control the people through media domination and force. We see events through the eyes of Evey Hammond [Natalie Portman] who is rescued by a terrorist known only as V [Hugo Weaving]. She is at first impressed by his “orchestrated” explosive demolition of the Old Bailey to the sound of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, then horrified by his violent attacks against government figures, until finally she comes to understand V himself. The film is about the idea, while the story she tells is about the man.

V's vendettaThe film’s most chilling line is the high chancellor’s enraged cry, “I want them to remember why they need us!” as he feels his vice-like grip over the population beginning to slip. The idea that control of population, largely through fear, is paramount provides a vision that could easily be applied to more than one western government. Yet although our perspective leads us to side with V from the start, room is given for us to question his actions and even the state in which he leaves things. Weaving does well in giving a masked character a little personality, though most of the acting is decent but unremarkable. It is really a film of impressive moments, climaxing with the fantastic domino montage, but even together they are not significant enough to warrant revisiting.

Tell us the identity of codename VThe fault lies largely with the Wachowskis’ script. While the story unfolds wonderfully, like the Matrix sequels it is plagued by the fact that the writing is never quite as clever as it thinks it is. Aside from the initial alliterative v-filled vernacular of V’s first verbose vocalisation (err, sorry) little of the dialogue is worth commenting upon. Its aggressive palette of reds and blacks is not as stylised as a Superhero movie, but we edge towards easy Nazi imagery instead of the more indirect 1984. It is grounded by its real-world setting, giving the ideas voiced more gravitas than in a fantasy one. The media parallels drawn are eerily accurate, but the political side is soporifically blunt. It might be viewed as a bold statement in this respect, and is certainly enjoyable and engaging in its storytelling, but it lacks the clarity to leave you thinking for very long once the credits roll. Nevertheless as a wake-up call, reminding people to pay attention to where our nations and our governments are headed, it may just do its job.

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rating: 2.5/4

"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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