England of the future is a country which has become a total fascist state ruled by the unscrupulous Chancellor Adam Sutler (John Hurt – The Skeleton Key, Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone). The citizens are under rule of a state imposed curfew, scanning of telephone calls, continuous threat of arrest by Creedy (Tim Pigott-Smith – Alexander, Gangs of New York) and his secret service men, and only one television station which is completely state controlled. As a result, the people of England are as docile and unquestioning as a herd of sheep.
Evey (Natalie Portman – Closer, Garden State) decides to go out to see fellow television station employee Deitrich (Stephen Fry – A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Gosford Park) one night after curfew, but she is stopped and threatened by several secret service men. Out of the shadows of the night comes a man with a Guy Fawkes mask who rescues Evey. He invites her to come listen to some music with him. They go up on the roof of a building in time to see the explosion of a state statue. The man says his name is V (Hugo Weaving – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Matrix Revolutions) and that he is responsible for the explosion.
After the government uses all their resources to cover up the true cause of the explosion, Chancellor Sutler assigns Chief Inspector Finch (Stephen Rea – The Crying Game, Breakfast on Pluto) to find and capture V. Finch identifies Evey from some surveillance shots taken and heads to the television station to arrest her. V takes over a broadcast at the television station in which he warns of his intentions of blowing up the parliament buildings the following November 5 (anniversary of Guy Fawkes Day) and urges the citizens of England to act against their government.
Just before Finch is able to capture Evey she escapes, but V is not so lucky as he gets stopped by one of Finch’s men. Seeing this, Evey helps V escape just as she is knocked out. When Evey comes to she is at V’s home and he explains that he had no other choice but to bring her there. V tells Evey she must stay there until next November 5 or she will be captured and killed. Evey has to decide whether to trust this masked man or to continue living her life in fear of everything.
V For Vendetta is a film that has been adapted from a DC Comic character by those wild and crazy (and supremely talented) Wachowski (Andy and Larry) brothers (The Matrix series, Bound). The Wachowskis have created a dark script in which the hero is intelligent but ruthless, the world is in a state of chaos and have instilled much criticism of the American government in this film which has an interesting socio-political theme running through it. Fear and how that emotion has been used to control us, the people, is presented in brilliant fashion in the film.
The film is directed by James McTeigue (assistant director on The Matrix series and Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones) who should be the one asked to direct the next Batman film. With V For Vendetta McTeigue has created a dark, rainy and gothic tribute to the comic book character created by Alan Moore (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) and David Lloyd (first film). McTeigue has also wisely decided to focus on the story rather than the action sequences. Some of the visuals in the film, while not quite up to The Matrix standard, are quite good and the score/music is heavenly. Hugo Weaving does an excellent job portraying the debonair, Shakespeare quoting, knife wielding hero V. You never get to see the actor’s face, but his vocals and body movements are spot on. I had read somewhere that Scarlett Johansson was up for the role of Evey and I really can’t picture it. Natalie Portman, who is great in whatever she does, is perfect as Evey. She brings the right amount of emotion and vulnerability to the character and is excellent in her portrayal of a character that is in a constant state of change. You can’t even bring yourself to hate her when she still looks beautiful after her character’s head is completely shaved. Do not think that you have to have read the graphic novel to appreciate the film. I haven’t and I did.
-Designing the Near Future
-Remember, Remember: Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot
-England Prevails: V For Vendetta and the New Wave in Comics
-Freedom! Forever!: Making V For Vendetta
-Saturday Night Live Digital Short
-Cat Power Montage