V for Vendetta review by The Grim Ringler

To me a film is successful if it reaches me. If it’s just a movie made to freak me out or amuse me and it does, then I’m a happy guy. Sure, you’ll see a movie that is pure popcorn fun getting the same score as a film that was made with serious intent and craft but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily equally good, they just reached me on the same level. If a movie generally does what it sets out to, then I am pretty content. And for a movie like V, that I left the theater wanting to change the world, well I’d say it’s pretty damned successful.

It is the future and America is a nation in ruins after civil war and plague and Britain has become the world’s superpower again. Under the iron rule of a strongly religious man (a mesmerizing and scary John Hurt) who has used fear and censorship to isolate and strengthen the nation against the rest of the world. Britain has become a fascist government with secret police and a frightened citizenry, and it has created V, a man who wants to change the world. Enraged at a government that no longer serves the people and at the sins committed against him years earlier, he is a man who feels the time has come for a very violent revolution. Caught up in this one-man revolution is Evey (Natalie Portman sporting a fake British accent), a beautiful young woman who V rescues from some attackers the night of his first assault on the government. V’s first target is a building in Britain that represents liberty and justice, a symbol he feels has been left behind in a government that rules with an iron fist. Invoking the image and ideal of Guy Fawkes, a British radical who was almost able to bring the Parliament building down, and donning a replica mask of Fawkes, V hopes to awaken a sleeping populace and to fan the flames of change. Unfortunately for Evie she is seen on a video to be with V when he destroys the government building and she is becomes a suspect and accomplice and her life is immediately in danger. Evey becomes wrapped up in the dangerous plot of V and is unsure whether she trusts him or not, but is tied to his fate. And as the hunt for Evey and V escalates a mystery begins to unravel for a curious police officer, a mystery he has been warned not to pursue, but one that could topple the government. V’s plan is coming together, as he sabotages a television station, hunts down the people responsible for making him the monster he is, and puts the pieces in place to finish what Guy Fawkes started. Everything is in place except the people of Britain – will they join with him and stand together against the government or is he truly fighting alone?

A truly awe-inspiring film that manages to be both artistic and great entertainment. Taking its first breath as a graphic novel, the story of a man out to change the world has become a classic story that can be told and re-told and still be interesting. Here we have the mixing of history with Guy Fawkes, with political fantasy, something created over and over again in classic film and literature. Many will see relevance in the timing of the film in that there is a great many people who are frustrated with our current American government, and there is that side to it. But before people jump on board or damn the film as little more than political day dreaming, we need to take a step back and see the film on the larger scale. This is not JUST about what is going on in America now (it’s hard to deny that there is an element of that here) but more it’s a story of what can and has happened. The idea of revolution is one not many of us would find attractive but which is something that most nations have a past with and something we need to remember. It’s good to be reminded that one person can change the world; a group of people can take back power from government; and that revolution is still a tool that can be very powerful and important. It’s great to see a film that gets that you can have a message and be entertaining as well. It’s not an easy thing but leave it to the Wachowski brothers to tie the two together (and yes, I know, the story is by Alan Moore but I never read the graphic novel so eat it!).

More than anything else, what struck me about V was the writing, which didn’t pander to the audience and assumed that whatever they might not be picking up, that we’d all catch on in the end. This is a political film at its heart and it remains true to that throughout. The casting and acting are also superb. Hugo Weaving as V creates a character you believe in and feel for despite not seeing his face. The rest of the cast is equally good and, thankfully, all Brits (save for Portman). I also love that they kept the film in Britain and didn’t try to Americanize it. FINALLY! I never understood the notion that Americans wouldn’t be interested in films not set in the States. Bollocks! The production was also well done and, other than a fight at the end of the film, the action and special effects never tried to outdo the story. The story is king here, and that’s how the film plays.

For me, the only problem I really had with the film was Portman’s acting in a few crucial scenes where her loyalty to V is in question and, honestly, I couldn’t tell which side she was on. I realize that we aren’t supposed to know exactly what Evey is thinking but, man, the scene is so vague it comes down to poor acting. I think she was trying too hard to mislead the audience that she lost the scene, and that’s a shame.

Any small issue I might have though is easily forgiven in light of the work as a whole. This is an incredible action film, and a work of political fiction. As I said before, any film that can make you want to change the world for the better is a pretty powerful movie. I really urge you to catch this in a theater.


8 out of 10 Jackasses
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