Since, for the moment, I am fairly immobile with my leg strapped up in a plaster cast, I have been spending my days working my way through an impressive mountain of dvds. One that recently stood out among the rest was V for Vendetta. I remember first seeing the film in Perth, Australia when it was released in 2005. Only really half concentrating on the heavy plot, I left the cinema wondering why it was that I felt totally overwhelmed. However by recently re-watching the film and this time giving it my full attention, my first reaction started to make a lot more sense.
Based on the 1989 graphic novel V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, the film is directed by James McTeigue, produced by Joel Silver with screenplay by the Wachowski brothers, who also directed the Matrix. V for Vendetta is certainly up there with The Matrix, however the only similarity being that Hugo Weaving, who played Agent Smith in the Matrix Trilogy, is cast here as the lead role, 'V'. Set in 2034 in totalitarian Britain trapped in the midst of a Right-wing, Fascist regime, this social and political thriller tells the tale of a young woman named Evey Hammond (played by Natalie Portman) who is rescued one night after curfew by a masked vigilante known only as V from being raped by the corrupted state police.
Throughout the film V never reveals his identity, and through his elegance and eloquence he presents a character that is doubly eminent in presence and charisma. He claims that he is in fact 'all of us', urging his fellow citizens to join with him in igniting a revolution against the government. His aim is to be set free from the oppression and dictatorship, and collapse the regime which rendered him a scarred and disfigured survivor of its terrifying experiments. He is determined to finish what Guy Fawkes started and successfully blow up the Houses of Parliament on the 5th November the following year, and as Evie digs deep and discovers more about who she really is, she becomes V’s unexpected ally. The totalitarian regime is headed up by High Chancellor Adam Sutler (John Hurt), a rascist, homophobic, fear-mongering and state power abusing dictator who sends out witch-hunts for those he deems ‘enemy ‘ of the state. In return he promises protection from bioweapons and bioterrorist attacks, like the previous attacks that the regime conveniently found a cure for shortly after coming to power. I won’t reveal the twist in the plot, but lets just say it’s pretty bold and nervy stuff for a mainstream, popcorn film, that, no doubt about it, will bring out the conspiracy theorist in you. You cannot help but draw comparisons between the updated Guy Fawkes story in the1980’s comic book and the 2001 bombings of 9/11, and what’s more so, is that it feels like this is slightly deliberate on behalf of the Wachowski's. Despite V’s Phantom of the Opera appearance, and Evie’s slightly dodgy English accent, both Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portland present great performances, providing energy, drama and suspense in abundance.
V for Vendetta contains big concepts that are, in places, challenging, troubling and quite hard to digest. It certainly isn’t for everyone, and you have to be in the mood for a plot fairly heavy and fraught with corruption, but there’s definitely something about this explosive film; it will really stay with you and most probably leave quite an impression.