V For Vendetta is based on a graphic novel (comic) by Alan Moore, who was also the creator of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and From Hell. Much like those two films, V for Vendetta has it’s roots in British history as V takes his inspiration from possibly the most well known terrorist in our history, Guy Fawkes. Even though his story only plays a very small part in the film, it’s actually nice to see such an important piece of our history finally getting a accurate mention in a mainstream Hollywood movie.
The film is written (but not directed) by the Wachowski brothers, who were also responsible for the grandiose mish mash that was the Matrix Trilogy and much like those films, V For Vendetta is a film that’s made to make you think, question and discuss. Some may argue (as my wife did) that it glorifies terrorism and maybe it does, but I guess that’s all in the interpretation.
The plot revolves around a man consumed by Vengeance, a man with a tortured past, that is driven to fight for his and his people’s freedom in a fascist country, where the government determines what you think and feel. His ultimate goal is to unite the people under his banner, destroy the government and ultimately to blow up the Houses Of Parliament, much like Guy Fawkes had attempted to do all those years ago.
Although the plot is well constructed and some of the performances are exceptional the movie does have it’s failings. It’s leading lady (Natalie Portman) seems bizarrely miscast as a an English girl that V saves, enlightens and eventually falls in love with. Even though she does excellent work in the second half of the movie, the first half leaves a lot to be desired. There is also a distinct lack of emotional connection with her, something that would have helped drive home the themes and ideas that run through the movie.
Fortunately though, V (Hugo Weaving) is simply fantastic, proving that even a man wearing a mask can display a multitude of emotion. I’m led to believe that he wasn’t first choice for the role and even as great as he is here, I can see why. The biggest problem with casting Hugo is the sound of his voice or rather it’s because that voice is so reminiscent of his most iconic character to date, Agent Smith. However, if you can push that thought to the back of your mind, you will enjoy his performance immensely. The supporting cast also do good work here, especially Stephen Fry, John Hurt and Tim Piggot-Smith.
Although the film deals with very serious issues there are some enjoyable moments of humour, especially one involving Stephen Fry and Benny Hill. The action is also well executed and the special effects while mostly minimal are also applied perfectly. Overall, it probably deserves to be seen on the big screen, especially for the final scenes and if you like films that make you think, this is definitely for you.
Almost great, definitely good.