V for Vendetta

PLOT:

In the near future, Britain is ruled by a totalitarian government under the fascist Norsefire party. Evey Hammond, a young woman who works at the state-run British Television Network, is rescued from an attempted rape by members of the secret police by a Guy Fawkes-masked vigilante known as “V”. He leads her to a rooftop to watch his destruction of the Old Bailey. Norsefire tries to explain away the incident as a controlled demolition, claiming the building was no longer structurally sound, but V takes over the state television broadcast the next day, exposing the lie. He urges the people of Britain to rise up against the oppressive government and meet him in one year, on 5 November, outside the Houses of Parliament, which he promises to destroy. Evey helps V to escape, but is knocked out in the process.

V brings Evey to his lair, where she is told that she must stay in hiding for her own safety. Upon learning that V is killing government officials, she escapes to the home of one of her superiors, Gordon Dietrich. Dietrich has a comedy TV show and one night he satirises the government. The secret police raid Dietrich’s home, capturing him and Evey. She is incarcerated and tortured for days for information about V. She finds solace in notes seemingly written some years earlier by another prisoner, an actress named Valerie Page, who was arrested for being a lesbian. Finally, Evey is told that she will be executed immediatly unless she reveals V’s location. An exhausted but defiant Evey says she would rather die, and is released. Evey discovers that she has been in V’s lair all along, and that her imprisonment was staged to free her from her fears. The notes were real, but they were passed to V when he was similarly imprisoned. Although Evey initially hates V for what he did to her, she realizes she now feels stronger and free in spirit. She leaves him with a promise to return before 5 November.

Inspector Finch, Scotland Yard’s chief of police, learns how Norsefire came to power and about V’s origins in the course of his investigation. Fourteen years earlier, the United States had collapsed, the victim of its own accidentally-unleashed bioweapon. Britain suffered in the resulting chaos. Norsefire led a reactionary purge to restore order, and “enemies of the state” frequently disappeared. The country was divided over the loss of freedom until a bioterrorist attack, targeting a school, a water treatment plant, and a subway station, killed many people. The fear generated by the attack allowed Norsefire to win the next election, silence all opposition, and turned Britain into a totalitarian state under High Chancellor Adam Sutler. A cure for the virus was discovered by a pharmaceutical company with ties to Norsefire.

Finch comes to realize that Sutler and his now security chief, Peter Creedy, engineered the catastrophe to gain power. The virus was developed through deadly experimentation on “social deviants” and political dissidents at a detention center in Larkhill. Unlike the rest of the doomed prisoners, V gained heightened abilities. When the center was destroyed, he escaped.

As 5 November nears, V’s various schemes cause chaos in Britain and the population grows more hostile towards Norsefire. He sends at least 100,000 Guy Fawkes masks to the people. On the eve of 5 November, Evey visits V, as she had promised. He shows her a train in the abandoned London Underground which he has filled with explosives to destroy Parliament. He leaves it up to Evey whether to use it, believing that he is unfit to decide.

V then leaves to meet Creedy. Creedy had come under increasing criticism from Sutler for his inability to capture V. Fearing for his life, he agreed to bring Sutler to V in exchange for V’s surrender. Creedy kills Sutler in front of V, but V refuses to surrender and is shot multiple times by Creedy’s praetorian guard. V survives due in part to his concealed armour breastplate, and kills Creedy and his men. Mortally wounded, V returns to Evey to thank her, and dies in her arms.

She places his body in the train. She is found by Finch. Having learned much about the corruption of the Norsefire regime, Finch allows Evey to send the train on its way. Thousands of Londoners, all wearing the Guy Fawkes masks but unarmed, march on Parliament to watch the event. Because Sutler and Creedy are dead and unable to give orders, the military stands down in the face of a civil rebellion. As Evey and Finch watch, Parliament is destroyed

REVIEW:

 No, V for Vendetta is not a movie version of the TV series V. It is however based on a graphic novel by the same team that brought us Watchmen.

Thank goodness this flick isn’t as long as said film, and it also moves along at a much faster pace, although there are times that it does seem to drag.

The plot here centers around futuristic England, which seems to be under totalitarian rule. As with any government, there is one (or a group) that are opposed to them, this is where V enters, and the film takes off from there.

The story is actually told very well. As the film moves along, I found myself feeling sorry for the people of this society and the lack fo freedoms that they have.

There is some very  fine writing going on here, coupled with Hugo Weaving’s natural delivery, V comes off as a very educated, refined character, the likes of which we only see as Disney villains.

Some may say this is some kind of political statement film. I won’t go there, but I can see where one would get that idea. What with the near Nazi-esque society, and the idea that government takes over everything, it does seem to be on the verge of a political flick.

The action scenes are few and far between, but they make you sit up and take notice. The team that brought us The Matrix trilogy, also brought us this film, and the fight scenes have their fingerprints all over them.

Natalie Portman gives one of her strongest performances to date. I will admit, that I was hoping she would have kept the damsel in distress type persona. Nothing against strong women, it is just nice to have someone who was just there to be saved and not try to make a federal case about it or take over the operation the way females in cinema tend to do these days. All that being said, I have to commend her for actually shaving her head. There aren’t many women that can pull off that look and still look attractive.

Hugo Weaving is his usual debonair self as V. There are no holes in his performance, though I was wishing they would have revealed his face. The whole film left us in a mysterious cloud about what really happened. The least they could have done was reveal it at the end, but maybe that was jus wishful thinking, right?

Stephen Fry, at one point in the film, has me convinced he was V. There is a scene where he gives Natalie Portman’s character the same treatment she received down in V’s lair, even going so far as to repeat some of the lines. Fry impressed me with his character, and I wished he would have had a bigger part.

John Hurt turns in a strong performance as the villainous dictator-type. It takes a strong actor, though, to give one  chills when all they are doing is screaming into a camera from the underground.

V for Vendetta initially did not interest me, but after hearing about it from some friends, I decided to check it out for myself. I’m so glad that I did. I can’t believe I was missing out on this masterful piece of cinematic lore. If you have been avoiding this picture in the same way I was, then I suggest you stop and go check it out. You won’t be disappointed!

4 out of 5 stars

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2 Responses to “V for Vendetta”

  1. […] anywhere that Doc was this flamboyant or that he resembled Guy Fawkes (the guy who face V wears in V for Vendetta). At times, I thought Holliday was homosexual. Kilmer may have done some of his best acting here, […]

  2. […] Net Neutrality was just repealed by the FCC, so on this dark day where it seems as if free thought and speech are set to end, what better film to feature than V for Vendetta […]

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