imdb: V for Vendetta
This was an odd movie. Somehow I couldn’t put my finger on it. Is it about revenge? Or social revolution? Or a political statement based on current events? I’ve read that the original graphic novel was a reaction to the Thatcher administration. And that the Wachowski brothers (who made The Matrix) wrote the screenplay for this, and simplified and revised the story for the benefit of the viewing audience.
It occurs in the distant future, with the entire story taking place in the UK. The United States has fallen into civil war and is in ruins. A fascist, repressive government has taken over, led by Chancellor Sutler. The government has removed all civil liberties and is bent on enforcing its will on the people through propaganda, government enforcers who goes by the name ‘Fingermen’, and through spying on its own citizens.
The two protagonists is a masked character named ‘V’ and a young female, ‘Evey’ played by Natalie Portman. V is hell bent on revenge and justice as he has been disfigured as a result of being incarcerated by the government. Evey has her own back story, starting out as an innocent citizen, but slowly being drawn into V’s world, eventually playing a major role in his plans.
There is a lot of social commentary in the dialogue, mostly from V. The idea that is repeated throughout the film is that ‘ideas are bulletproof’, and are more powerful than men. He also said a lot of other lines that I thought were interesting, maybe a bit idealistic, a little weird, funny even, but it fits in with his overall character and accomplishes its purpose.
I had the subtitles turned on while watching the DVD as I didn’t want to miss any of the quotes. My favorite is the one when Evey asked V whether he was certain of his plans, and he replied “There is no certainty, only opportunity.” Of all the bits of dialog, this was the one I could relate to the most.
I didn’t exactly agree with how V went about with his plans for overthrowing the government. I felt it was a bit too reckless, a bit too idealistic, and self-serving. He also came across as this goofy character, particular in this one scene where Evey wanted to leave, and he kept saying something like, ‘oh before you go’, and ‘could you do me one favor?’, which came out really weird (I kept thinking, uh oh, I think V wants to have sex with Natalie Portman). I’m not sure if the humor was intended, probably not.
There were also some boring and ridiculous parts, such as the one where the TV host spoofs the Chancellor and plays the Benny Hill music. It felt unfunny and out of place. The priest's acting in the scene with Portman was totally dumb and unrealistic. There was also this part where the lead detective kicks a garbage can in a fit of frustration that felt out of character. Many scenes didn't work at all for me.
The Wachowski brothers are brilliant writers and filmmakers, but when left uncontrolled to their own devices, they occasionally turn out some weird crap such as in Matrix Revolutions and some of the scenes in this film.
Natalie Portman was great in her role, and I think she saved this movie from going over the edge. My friend remarked that he avoided watching V for Vendetta because he didn’t want to see a bald Natalie Portman. But she still looked great with her head shaved! And I think the character fit her perfectly.
There were a couple of plot holes which I can’t list without giving away spoilers. I had some trouble believing what happened in the Evey interrogation/torture segment, and how V had rebuilt the subway train all by himself.
This is not horrible. Maybe even an entertaining movie. And it has some good ideas. It felt very preachy, but I believe this was the intent anyway. It will make you think, which is the important part. It’s the ideal movie to watch with your friends and talk about over starbucks afterwards.
Rating: 3/5 * * *
+1 * for Natalie Portman
(Note: This article describes the differences between the movie and the graphic novel. After reading it, I understood why the movie felt so flawed, at least to me. Contains spoilers. -rob)