Directed by James McTeigue
Written by Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski (screenplay), Alan Moore
On general release from 17th March 2006
It is just as well for the team behind the Matrix trilogy that the 'glorification'
of terrorism has yet to become a criminal offence in the UK. If it had,
they might possibly have found themselves on the wrong side of the law
by now, and this film would not have been shown. But that is precisely
the point, and is why V For Vendetta is so important.
The Wachowskis take current trends in British politics and push them
fourteen years further. Their predictions probably won't be entirely accurate,
but then neither was George Orwell's 1984. In fact, it could be said that
the film is a 1984 for the 21st century.
Almost standing the anarchist 'circled A' symbol on its head, the masked
terrorist/freedom fighter named 'V' (Hugo Weaving) is on a mission to
overthrow the fascist government of Adam Sutler (John Hurt). One night,
he discovers Evey (Natalie Portman) being 'interrogated' by secret agents
for breaking curfew. After saving the young woman's skin, saying "Verily,
this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose" and asking about
her taste in music, he takes Evey to see the Old Bailey exploding. It
is the fifth of November, and V remember remembers Guy Fawkes' plot to
blow up Parliament. He wants to succeed where his predecessor failed.
Matrix fans will recognise a few themes from that series. Yep, there
are a few good slow-motion fight scenes. There are hints of great philosophical
questions. There are also a few things that don't quite make sense. But
basically, V is Neo - the secular saviour. The totalitarian state shown
here is quite similar to the idea of the machines he fought against, but
then perhaps it should be the other way round. After all, the Wachowskis
apparently pored over Alan Moore's anti-Thatcher polemic when it came
out, and claim they were working on V For Vendetta before they even started
on Neo and co. Now they’ve updated the whole shooting match for
Blair, Brown and the Sutlers that may well come after if we’re not
It is difficult to recommend Hugo Weaving's performance, since it's impossible
to be sure that it actually is him under the mask and all that clobber.
In fact, V sounds remarkably like Blackadder era Rowan Atkinson. Unfortunately,
Natalie Portman does in this film what she seems to do in every other
- namely underact whilst looking v-aguely pretty if you like that sort
of thing. Her performance - coupled with the odd clunky line of the kind
that blighted Matrixes 2 and 3 - nearly spoils the whole experience. But
V for Vendetta is rescued by its v-ision, political insight and the sheer
coolness of seeing certain buildings get v-iolently rearranged. The Daily
Telegraph dismissed it as 'Veritably, a vacuous and vapid venture', but
then it would. I'd say it was more of a vitally veracious and vincular
vehicle. Not that I'm glorifying it or anything.