V FOR VENDETTA: From DC comics and the Wachowski Brothers (THE MATRIX) comes this tale of revolution in an England of the future, one gone fearful and fascist; anyone different, from homosexuals to free thinking artists, is "black bagged" and subjected to torture and inhumane medical experiments. Hugo Weaving stars as V, the mysterious knife-carrying masked avenger who has lightning reflexes, lots of explosives, and intentions to blow up Parliament. He's also on a vendetta against the evil powermongers who made him the lonely monster he is. Natalie Portman is the innocent waif who saves him and winds up hiding out in his nifty secret lair, which is filled with forbidden books, art, and a jukebox that plays Cat Power and Julie London's "Cry Me a River." Meanwhile, there's a hangdog police inspector (Stephen Rea) picking up their trail, and a plethora of evil British government types regularly bullied into action by the intensely odious "Grand Chancellor" (John Hurt). Director James McTiegue keeps all these events unfolding at a hypnotically rhythmic pace, like the burning of a long, unstoppable fuse. Some may balk at the film's seemingly pro-explosive, pro-terrorist stance, but to look deeper is to realize the film merely provides a funhouse mirror of our actual messed-up world, something that is true of all the best science fiction. V certainly fits that category, especially with Natalie Portman in the lead, as lovely and riveting an actress as a beleaguered nation could ever hope for.