Borrowing from the legend of Guy Fawkes, a single man known only as V (Hugo Weaving) takes a stand against Britain's totalitarian regime of the very near future in V for Vendetta, based on Alan Moore's classic graphic novel of the same name. When V meets Evey (Natalie Portman), it seems like a coincidental meeting until it becomes clear that nothing in V's world is a coincidence -- everything and everyone is connected.
The film does stray somewhat from the novel which was written at the height of Thatcher's rule in the late 1980s but it strays so that it may seem that much more universal. Vendetta is still set in England and the idea that there can be hope even in times that seem hopeless remains the central theme.
While the film benefits from a strong script, based on a strong novel, it is carried by strong performances. In addition to Portman and Weaving, gripping performances are delivered by Stephen Rae and Rupert Graves as the detectives who come to fear the worst; and by Stephen Fry as Evey's boss, Gordon, a British Television Network celebrity who has a few secrets of his own. The casting of John Hurt as the totalitarian leader is also a wry wink to dystopian film fans who may remember his turn as Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty Four.
Rounding out what is good about this film are the direction (by James McTeigue), the costume design, and the set design. In fact, there is little about it that I take exception with. I wasn't sure how much whizz-bang to expect from the Wachowski Brothers (of Matrix fame) but they did not go over the top. There is some gore and there are some impressive explosions and even a few spectacular fight sequences. Overall though, V for Vendetta is more about V than his vendetta; the film's focus is on the ideas of justice and of rebellion rather than on the way those things are brought about.
Considering the subject matter -- the central character is a terrorist -- V for Vendetta is a film that fills its audience with hope. In the end, it's clear: not only can you stand up to your government and say, "Bollocks," but sometimes you should.
V for Vendetta is in theatres now.
Buy the graphic novel V for Vendetta (Canada/USA/UK)
Buy the soundtrack Music from V for Vendetta (Canada/USA/UK)
TAGS: review, movie review, V for Vendetta