When the mysterious freedom fighter “V” shows up to rescue Natalie Portman, he proceeds to use every V-word in the English language
within the course of about thirty seconds. I have no idea what he was saying, but I liked it.
V For Vendetta is based on a DC Comic that depicts a futuristic London at the mercy of an oppressive government. V is something of a
modernized Zorro figure, fighting to restore power to the people. “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should
be afraid of their people,” he tells Portman’s Evey, who becomes caught up in his quest following her rescue. V is always masked, and
although I think the intent is that we identify with Evey, V is a far more interesting character. Voiced by the excellent Hugo Weaving, V is a
deep and intelligent action hero who also waxes of the power of symbols, fear, and vengeance.
Vendetta was written and produced by the Wachowski brothers of The Matrix series fame. I know they turned a lot of people off with the
sequels, but Vendetta is very well written. It is socially daring, dramatically fulfilling, and avoids the detached and humorless characters of
The Matrix series, mostly through the wit of V. Perhaps the best compliment of an adaptation is that it wasn’t obvious that it was based on
an existing series. See: the confusing Constantine for an example of how to not adapt.
James McTeigue, who compliments the excellent art direction with stylish angles that border on going over the top (but rarely do), directed
the film. He is also very adept with the action sequences, which are not exactly frequent, but always stunning and appropriately bloody.
Perhaps the biggest problem with V for Vendetta is that there isn’t more action. Too much time is spent on a subplot that follows two agents
of the government who are tracking V and Evey. They aren’t interesting or necessary and have little payoff in the end.
The film also comes close to taking itself too seriously at a few points, but this is a minor complaint because we do take it somewhat
seriously. Vendetta is a story of oppression and hate, what they can lead to, and how people can fight back. When we get behind the causes
of V, he is fun to root for. V For Vendetta is a solid futuristic thriller that should satisfy vivacious viewers verily.
* * *
(out of four)
Directed by: James McTeigue
Written by: Andy Wachowski & Larry Wachowski
Starring: Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea,
Stephen Fry, John Hurt, Tim Pigott-Smith, Rupert Graves
Cinematography by: Adrian Biddle
Music by: Dario Marianelli
Released: March 17, 2006; 132 Minutes