Title: V for Vendetta.
Director: James McTeigue.
Screenplay: Lilly Wachowski & Lana Wachowski.
Release Date: 2005.
Runtime: 132 min.
Genre(s): Action, Drama, Science-Fiction.
Cast: Hugo Weaving, Natalie Portman, Rupert Graves, and many more!
Opening Weekend: $25,642,340.
Gross USA: $70,511,035.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10).
The government is an entity that is created by humankind to ensure the management of societal needs and resources. To live without one is a reality that has often led to chaos and it is to spare ourselves from this madness that we sacrifice a piece, if not the totality, of our freedom to put forth a government that can assure the safety and progress of its people in the most appropriate way. Unfortunately, it is near impossible to satisfy all without at least one individual presenting a certain form of opposition. After all, there are many ways to reach one’s goals, even if it means putting aside some of our most fundamental rights. Under the oppression of a government that failed to show any form of honesty, Guy Fawkes had become a powerful symbol following his failed gunpowder plot and an inspiration for one fictional anti-hero who many have grown fond of: V.
What is V for Vendetta about? Set in 2032, the United Kingdom prevails under a fascist government where the High Chancellor Adam Sutler (John Hurt) reigns at the head of the Norsefire Party. On the night of November 4th, a vigilante wearing a Guy Fawkes mask (Hugo Weaving) appears from the darkness of the alleys to save Every Hammond (Natalie Portman) from members of the Fingermen secret police force. As the clock hits midnight, they watch the first steps to his masterplan beautifully unravel before their eyes with the classic 1812 Overture playing in the background. The story thus follows this strange antihero who goes by the name of V as he looks to bring down the police state in which the British people have resigned to live under, and all with the unlikely help of Evey Hammond as she unconventionally discovers something profoundly crucial about herself and her beliefs.
The movie offers viewers the opportunity to reflect on the intricate relationship that exists between the populace and their government. Ideologically, it reminds us that we are to never to live in fear of whoever sits in a position of power. The reciprocity that is idealized between both entities is what everyone strives for but the instant that there is any form of dissonance, any form of inequality, a rise for action is thus sought. In this story, V is on a mission for vengeance—that sure wasn’t too obvious, was it?—and his objective is entirely oriented towards taking down the oppressive government by opening the eyes of the population. Through his scheming, you are brought to understand that the government might seem untouchable on an individual level but through a collective effort, there’s nothing that a society cannot take down without a little bit of violence. This message isn’t however unanimously approved, unveils you worship libertarianism or anarchy, as violence isn’t always the answer to everything but for the sake of this movie, it is the ultimate means to achieve the desired ends.
Throughout the movie, there is also an important message revolving around ideologies and it is mostly vehiculated through the subplot revolving around Evey Hammond. Similar to what was conveyed by writer Alan Moore in the original graphic novel—check out my review for more on my thoughts—ideas are far more powerful than we would believe. Through an idea, it is possible to move a whole population, but to kill an idea, it would take more than just bullets. Evey Hammond’s character starts off as innocent as they could come and slowly learns through adversity that she doesn’t just amount to flesh and bone but a vehicle for ideas to sow in the world if she can surpass the obstacles in her way, especially fear. Although I’m not a huge fan of Natalie Portman and believe that she doesn’t necessarily deliver a very versatile performance—I mean… She mostly cries and feigns ignorance throughout this movie—she does do enough to allow the movie to deliver its plot twists and grand finale with grandeur.
Where this movie especially succeeds is in Hugo Weaving’s portrayal of V. This isn’t a character that is easy to translate in a live-action adaptation for one reason in particular: the mask. To wear it immediately takes away the habitual emotional depth that is often achieved through various characters as faces allow viewers to identify, relate, and feel the emotions that were meant to be conveyed. But guess what? V’s character still successfully delivers a broad spectrum of emotions throughout the movie. His mannerism allows his character to be charismatic while his plotting allows him to be both enigmatic and astute. However, his body language and his voice are what ultimately brings us to love his performance the most as they give us subtle clues as to his flawed and damaged self. After all, V is a character whose background remains one of the primary mystery of this movie but also explains why he sacrifices himself for a greater good. For, V understands that, despite what he was deprived of in his life, his self is the only thing that he has left to give for freedom.
The movie also delivers some solid cinematography accompanied with a resounding score meticulously chosen with a purpose for the story. While it is essentially a political thriller, there is also a decent dose of action sequences that are well-executed and offer some excitement amidst the ideological warfare. Amongst all the scenes, V’s monologue—how he explains his sobriquet with words starting with ‘V’ is absolutely amazing—and his final battle—which also remains loyal to the ‘V’ theme—remain some of the coolest sequences in my books. I won’t lie that the second half of the movie, following the huge plot twist around Evey Hammond’s, was a huge shift in direction and was overall a bit weaker in terms of storytelling. This is probably the main reason why the graphic novel will always surpass the movie for me but at least it tried to remain loyal to the source material.
V for Vendetta (2005) is a telltale cinematic piece that reminds all society of the death of freedom through the fear of governments and the emancipation of the population through the apotheosis of chaos.
V for Vendetta (2005) is based on the DC/Vertigo Comics graphic novel released in 1988 by writer Alan Moore and artist David Lloyd. However, a new TV series is in development.
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