Film review: V For Vendetta


V For Vendetta

Oh yeah. Oh. Yeah. Take an 80s graphic novel by Alan Moore, set in an near-future alternative Britain under totalitarian rule, featuring the anarchist/terrorist ‘V’ in trademark Guy Fawkes mask, and influenced by Thatcher-era British politics. Make it into a film that breathes new life into the original themes and perfectly relevant to our times without spoon-feeding, yet still makes it work as both action-adventure and stylish future noir. Tough call, but V For Vendetta pulls it off.

V For Vendetta is a dense, multi-layered film directed by James McTeigue from a screenplay by the Wachowski brothers (the Matrix trilogy). I haven’t read the original graphic novel, and perhaps Moore’s desire to distance himself from the film is justified, but I can’t imagine how he could be unhappy with the rich experience this film delivers. The lynchpin is Hugo Weaving as ‘V’, who manages to create a fully fleshed out and fascinating character without ever revealing his face, with the help of an intelligent script that never once falls into ‘superhero stereotype’. Not far behind is Natalie Portman as Evey, the woman he rescues from creepy government ‘Fingermen’ and who becomes involved in his crusade to make the nation’s oppressed citizens rise up against their tyrannical government. Portman—her wooden turn as Princess Armidala in Star Trek now thankfully far in the past—has become an incredible actress with real presence and subtlety, and for me this is her best performance to date.

V For Vendetta manages to do two things at once—it challenges and inspires by appealing to universal themes like all good science fiction and fantasy, and yet at the same time it doesn’t spell out solutions or lead the viewer by the hand. By walking this thin line it challenges you to use your brain, to counter the ‘with us or against us’ mentality of those who think in black and white with reality, complete with all its grey areas. I’m sure there will be many who misinterpret the film as a result, who see it as exorting terrorists to blow up buildings. What it really is, however, is exactly what our force-fed culture needs—a good boot up the backside.

And there’s a cracking good knife-fight and some mighty explosions.

My rating? Of course—five fifth symphonies out of five.

9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jedimacfan
    Apr 11, 2006 @ 21:51:08

    I agree that it was good, but it lost one star right away since it has the “Wachowski” name attached to it. I want my 6 hours back that I wasted watching the Matrix movies. It’s got to be on the top ten list of worst trilogies ever made.

  2. UniversalHead
    Apr 11, 2006 @ 23:43:42

    Nahh, I forgive ’em. They reached too far too soon. They were smart enough to recognise talent and hand this screenplay over to their First Assistant Director, weren’t they?
    And c’mon, the first one was great! It had One Really Good Idea … shame the others didn’t have any.

  3. jedimacfan
    Apr 12, 2006 @ 02:55:27

    Well, I’ve thought it over, and I will return 1/2 a star simpy for the fact that Natalie Portman is still gorgeous, even with a shaved head.

  4. steelbuddha
    Apr 12, 2006 @ 05:21:38

    The only real problems I had with the film (even with the departures from the original story, like the Million Mask March) were the culmination of the love story and the fact that V cried. To me, the character of V is remorselessly aware that he is a monster and that Evey is the phoenix that will rise from his ashes. V and Evey are the two sides of Kali, the destroyer and the creator and V does not shy away from nor feel compunction for that. I can understand Alan Moore’s decision to be removed from the credits, though I do not entirely agree with him.
    All in all, though, brave film-making and the message remains intact.

  5. UniversalHead
    Apr 12, 2006 @ 09:14:16

    Ahh – as noted I haven’t read the graphic novel and was unaware of the differences. Like your interepretation. Though given that (cannot discuss further or will give away plot …)

  6. steelbuddha
    Apr 13, 2006 @ 02:00:33

    Oops! Sorry, I maybe should have put a spoiler alert in there.
    There are other major differences, but the movie taken on its own is stellar. Certainly had more going for it thatn the prvious week’s matinee of Ultraviolet, but that’s not fair praise.

  7. UniversalHead
    Apr 16, 2006 @ 01:12:49

    Utraviolet huh? The trailer looked terrible, like a 3D student film project. Mila Jovovich seems to be badly stuck in a superheroine rut. (Hmmm, that didn’t come out too well … perhaps I could have expressed myself better.)

  8. steelbuddha
    Apr 22, 2006 @ 08:09:29

    Wimmer’s first film, Equilibirum, was quite good. Although the ending left much to be desired and sort of hinted at his cideo game mentality toward film-making. But Ultraviolet just stunk. I couldn’t even enjoy the eye candy after the opening scenes, the plot and dialogue became so ludicrous.

  9. UniversalHead
    Apr 22, 2006 @ 11:21:43

    I hadn’t heard of this director – may check out that first one. Sounds like I’ll give Ultraviolet a big miss though. I couldn’t believe that they couldn’t even make the trailer look good.