Their geek cred hammered by the putrid Matrix sequels, the Wachowksi brothers set their pens to adapting a seminal graphic novel and very nearly end up transcending mere entertainment in the process. When masked vigilante "V" commandeers the airwaves of a dystopian future Britain, exhorting its repressed populace to reclaim its relinquished civil liberties, you can almost feel an entire nation (this one) metamorphosing into an angry mob, acknowledging its arrival at Bush-betrayed critical mass. It's a classic moment of catharsis a rallying cry for the impeachment brigade and the movie honors it by keeping the metaphors specific, pitting V against a regime that's theocratic, racist, anti-gay, pro-pharmaceutical and everything else we've come to know and "love." (The scenario, remember, was predicted by comics genius Alan Moore in 1982-85 not whipped up in the last 18 months, as countless disapproving Murdochian mouthpieces will likely assume.) But provocation demands constant nurturing, which proves beyond the capabilities of this long, dialogue-heavy and frequently static film. Moore's dense narratives, it appears, just don't play well as cinema, and may be better suited to the medium of the TV mini-series, in which their episodic pacing and paucity of splashy action set pieces would be strengths rather than weaknesses. Producers of that long-promised/threatened Watchmen flick should take heed.