V for Vendetta
- Hugo Weaving as V
- Natalie Portman as Evey Hammond
- Stephen Rea as Eric Finch
- Stephen Fry as Gordon Deitrich
- John Hurt as Adam Sutler
A provocative and very arresting political/action thriller based on a comic, V for Vendetta is a confronting movie that tackles a lot of controversial topics and ideas with a sense of style and a brain that is sometimes lacking from films usually on this nature.
In a futuristic version of London, chaos has blighted everything along with an oppressive government. Being not dutiful to the ruling power results in imprisonment and death. Activists, homosexuals, and people of different races are frequently targeted just for being different. A virus has claimed many lives in the United Kingdom and Europe. Most prominently is the government in power, run by Adam Sutler; who exercises cruel control over nearly every aspect of the population’s lives. Evey Hammond is a meek young woman who works in a broadcasting company( that churns out propaganda to the people to keep them in line) is caught one night out after enforced curfew. The secret police threaten her and attempt to attack her, but someone comes to her rescue. That someone is V, a masked vigilante in a Guy Fawkes mask, who is skilled in swordplay and fighting. After saving Evey, he demonstrates his real purpose of spurning the population into revolution by blowing up the Old Bailey. The fascist like government doesn’t take very kindly to V’s actions, particularly when he later uses the broadcasting company that Evey works at to display his message of rising up. Every is caught in the middle of all of this and must decide where her loyalties lie. Meanwhile, Chief of Police Eric Finch investigates any leads he can into V, yet finds that his loyalty to the government may very well have been misplaced and manipulated over the years. V’s plans gather a quickening pace as he takes on the corrupt powers that be, with Evey becoming something of an unlikely ally and then ultimately a strong supporter of his cause.
The director, James McTeigue does an inspired and button-pushing job with his directions. He allows the political nature of V for Vendetta to take the centre stage and all the questions that go with it, while never sacrificing action in the process. The film is very much a thinking person’s film and while there are fight scenes and action, it never becomes repetitive because the essence of the story is kept intact. V for Vendetta presents an uncomfortable and shocking possibility of a future that is ruled with an iron fist and with extreme prejudice. Racism, homophobia, the accountability of the powerful and the manipulative agendas of government all come under the spotlight and are never shied away from. This film raises many terrifying what if scenarios that tap into our fears of what the world could become, which isn’t outside the realm of possibility when you think about the countless changes that this world has endured. There is something even timely about the film as it deciphers how fear and panic can be spread and lead people to be threatened by those more powerful than them. Now there are those that will view V for Vendetta as a film that is propaganda or in some cases a dangerous film that advocates terrorism( which I have heard a number of people imply), but I wouldn’t say that the film goes really far with those things. Yes, the main character is someone who uses violence and devastation to make his point, but I think it is up to the individual person to form their own opinion on what the film is presenting and what message it puts across. That’s the way I view V for Vendetta, it can be read on a number of significant levels. Some won’t agree with what it has to say and others may take note, but in the end, isn’t a film supposed to get you thinking? Granted, it may bang the political drum a little too loudly at fleeting points, but the topics it brings up are definitely thought-provoking and stay with you for a long time afterwards. On the visual side, the colour scheme that largely features red, black and white is memorably hard-hitting yet oddly resplendent in execution; showing a world at its knees and the potential of change emerging with the presence of V from the shadows. And there is quite a lot of action going on in V for Vendetta, as the masked title character does brutal battle with other forces in strikingly shot fight scenes. A steady score rises in levels along with events, forming a somewhat rousing musical accompaniment to both V’s aims and Evey’s journey.
As the eponymous V and with only movement and voice to use, Hugo Weaving is masterful. His deep voice is utilized to maximum impact, investing the role of the masked V with an elegance and intelligence. He may be a character capable of lethal and fatal action, but there is something so immersive about him that you can’t help but watch. His graceful movements almost mirror those of a proficient dancer, as he glides with purpose and something deadly too. The part wouldn’t have been the same without someone of Hugo Weaving’s calibre in the role, he just completely embodies it. Natalie Portman is just as good in the role of Evey; whose encounters with V and the aftermath provide a lot of thrust of the narrative with Portman giving a range of feeling to the part that grows stronger and more pronounced as the film progresses. If you’re expecting the part of Evey to be someone who kicks ass and physically fights, you aren’t going to get that. And to think that misses the point that she is an ordinary woman thrust into difficult circumstances and forced to make a stand. Portman plays the journey of her subtly yet expressively, ensuring that there is a natural progression that is believable from scared girl to fearless woman ready to do something. Although her accent is a little shaky, that’s the only foible in the work from Natalie Portman( who memorably shaved her head for the part), who emerges with a strong performance of gathering gumption and depth. The excellent Stephen Rea is well-chosen for the role of the police chief, slowly peeling the layers of deceit back and going between being frightened of V and inspired by him. Solid support comes courtesy of Stephen Fry as a television host having to hide who he truly is and the late, great John Hurt as the imposing dictator with a whole lot of power.
A movie with a lot to say and the balls to go forth with it, V for Vendetta is a film that elicits discussion from many, due to the things it addresses and the ultimate message. For me, it is an engrossing film that while it has required action, puts the story first and packs a punch with its refusal to lessen the blow of what it covers.