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V for Vendetta (2006)

Remember, remember the 5th of November, the gun powder treason and plot. I know of no reason why the gun powder treason should ever be forgot.

Starring:

Billie Cook

Hugo WeavingHugo Weaving

John HurtJohn Hurt

Natalie PortmanNatalie Portman

Natasha Wightman

Rupert Graves

Stephen Fry

Stephen Rea

Tim Pigott-Smith

Directed by:

James McTeigue

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 132 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

Country: Germany, United Kingdom, United States

As he always does with film adaptations of his comics work, Alan Moore has distanced himself from the big screen version of his darkly prophetic, anti-Thatcher comic of the same name. I never read the source material, which I think, for an unbiased view of the movie, is usually a good way to start. Going in blind, I found myself thoroughly engrossed and entertained all the way through every one of its 133 minutes.

In a world that’s not so far in the British future, Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman) is walking after curfew when she’s accosted by government guys and subsequently rescued by a mysterious man in a Guy Fawkes mask with a fondness for black hats, big words, and bringing down the totalitarian regime that’s ruling the nation. Though unwilling at first to see anything but the need for her own survival, Evey begins to understand that there are bigger ideas at play, and that she will inevitably play a part in the reshaping of the world.

So, though I didn’t read the original comic, there’s a definite comic book feel flowing through V for Vendetta, a feeling intensified by the image of an unmoving mask whose words are more prose than dialogue. Hugo Weaving’s V is a spectacular, intelligent hero, and led by John Hurt as the epitome of dictatorship Sutler, the evil totalitarian Parliament is creepy as all get out. Plus, say what you will about Portman’s accent, I think she pulls it off just fine, and besides that, she carries Evey from unremarkable working girl to unwilling captive to freedom fighter with a believability that could’ve easily gone over the top and doesn’t. The movie’s messages are heavy-handed at times, but sometimes when taking on all-encompassing issues, subtlety is just too, well, subtle. Just like a comic book, we get villains we can boo with fervor, unconventional heroes we can root for, and spectacular artistry in its imagery. V is a complicated hero, employing what some could consider “terrorist” tactics to spread his message against Sutler and his well-dressed goons, yet completely refined and charismatic. He never really raises his voice, never seems rattled, and even when in the midst of intense fighting, seems absolutely in control. As played by Weaving, V could say just about anything and people would listen, but when he’s saying the hard, ugly truth, he is able to stir a basic need for justice with just his voice. Story-wise, we’ve heard this play out before—both in fiction and in real life—and it’s both almost cliché and disturbing all at once. The unique twist here is that, though we’ve of course seen homosexuals persecuted in the past, their treatment here isn’t THE focus, but it’s also not just one small aspect, and I can’t really think of a more affecting portrayal in recent times than Valerie and Ruth’s subplot.

Oh—and the explosions and fights kick butt, too!

It's Got: Great performances, great effects, sometimes unrecognized complexity

It Needs: To be watched all in one sitting, "V" costumes for Halloween, a spot in your DVD collection

DVD Extras A good selection of extras—though a commentary would’ve been nice. "Freedom! Forever!" - Making of "V For Vendetta"; Designing the Near Future; Remember Remember: Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot; England Prevails: "V for Vendetta" and the New Wave in Comics; Cat Power, "I Found A Reason" video; Soundtrack Album Info; Theatrical Trailer DVD Extras Rating: 7/10

Summary

Just because you can see its message from a mile away, don’t think this is some simple revenge/anti-government movie; a fully realized, thought-provoking viewing experience.

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