Review: V for Vendetta

Posted by: Dean Kish  //  March 17, 2006 @ 11:59am

Filed under: Reviews

Back in 1981, critically-acclaimed graphic novelist Alan Moore conceived an unrelentless vision of the future. His main character was a dark and twisted revolutionary who would stop at nothing to bring down a corrupt futuristic government. Only known by "V", the character was deeply scarred and at times unrelatable. V was a bastard of society and also society's worst nightmare.

In the film version, Evey (Natalie Portman) is making her way to a romantic rendezvous when she is confronted by three men who want to rob and rape her. That is, until a man in black wearing a Guy Fawkes mask appears in the night. The man quickly dispenses of the rapists and rescues Evey. He asks Evey to join him for a vision that will change her life. Caught up in the moment, she joins him. She watches from a roof-top with the masked man as he blows up a bell tower and claims to have ushered in a new dawn in society. His voice is eloquent and his words are almost hypnotizing as Evey becomes more curious about this man.

The film intensifies as a detective (Stephen Rea) is assigned to investigate the socially-dubbed terrorist known only as V (Hugo Weaving). Evey is now dubbed as an accomplice in V's plight, and she is forced to live with the masked man, where she learns more and more about this man of shadows. Is V evil or good? How far would you go for revenge and freedom?

The graphic novel asked a lot of questions about who we are as people and how society sculpts it. It was one of the landmark graphic novels of the past 30 years and the film helps make it relevant today. With so much corruption in government and social paranoia running rampant, it is interesting to see that Hollywood has resurrected this complicated character.

I never really wanted to see this turned into a film because I guess I knew what V stood for. I was appalled at all the Matrix references associated with its promotions. I guess I felt that was like saying Frankenstein, brought to you by the creators of Date Movie and Big Daddy. I guess I forgot to tell myself that Hollywood has no scruples, or is it just super-producer Joel Silver? Sorry, I keep getting that mixed up.

V for Vendetta was meant to be an indie movie that taught its lesson to everyone, not just the spam-filled minds of the Matrix demographic.

As I watched this new version of V, I actually found myself enjoying it, even if there were blatant pop culture references in some sequences. I guess the reason I found myself liking it was that I found myself relating to V, which I couldn't do in the novel.

Then the film dove into Evey's capture and I found myself losing my grip on what the film was trying to convey and my like for what was transpiring. On the other hand, it also made the novel make more sense. If V isn't relatable and is more psychotic, then you probably understand what he does in the film's second half more. Making him likeable and being almost heroic makes his actions have less impact. This guy isn't Batman, nor should he ever be conceived as so.

I have to commend Natalie Portman for her performance in this film because she is astoundingly good. I also loved Hugo Weaving as V, even if we never get to see him. I couldn't imagine anyone else giving such a powerful performance in voice alone. He projects such magic presence through every word spoken by this tormented yet eloquent monster.

I have to say that Hollywood didn't destroy the true nature of the story and characters, but when you have something this deep slapping Hollywood glitz and tinsel on it, it is just wrong. (3.5 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

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