By the early 2000s audiences were seeing a rediscovered love for films based on comic books. Looking back we can clearly see they’re not the cinematic marvel like films part of The MCU or The DC Extended Universe, nevertheless, you can’t argue that at the time they brought in big bucks at the box office and some even became classics of the superhero genre. However, the bulk of these early superhero films followed the tone of their source materials which was a good bit of fun, which left out the audiences who wanted something more mature. Hollywood met this demand with several films based on graphic novels. These films were darker, stylised and focus on many mature themes that would be out of place in the superhero films of the time. And in this guy’s opinion, none were finer than V for Vendetta.
Based on the celebrated graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, the film takes place in a futuristic, dystopian UK, where the political party Norsefire rules the country as a police state. Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman) is being harassed by secret police when she is saved by an unknown, well-spoken revolutionist known only as V (Hugo Weaving), he later blows up the Old Bailey and the next day broadcasts a message that he is going to blow up the Houses of Parliament. After saving Evey a second time, he takes her on board as his accomplice. Meanwhile, two detectives Finch (Stephen Rea) and Dominic (Rupert Graves) are investigating V and soon discover a conspiracy surrounding V that goes all the way back to the beginnings of Norsefire itself.
This film was directed by James McTeigue, however it was also written and produced by Lana and Lilly Wachowski, directors of the hugely popular Matrix series, and when watching this, it becomes clear as day that their hands were all over this project, mostly due to the how V for Vendetta follows a similar style to The Matrix. Where this is the case especially is in the violence this film presents. V’s incredibly swordsmanship is perfectly complimented by quick cuts to match his quick skills with a knife. The presentation of this violence is almost like a dance routine, perfectly choreographed and styled to such a degree. In one example, the swiftness of these fights is accompanied by a wispy trail emanating from V’s knives implying he’s moving at almost superhuman speed.
Although we never see his face, Hugo Weaving is marvellously poetic. The dialogue of V is not your usual run of the mill conversation, Weaving makes sure every syllable in every sentence is stitched together and flows like a calm river. Even though he is covered a Guy Fawkes mask, we can visualise his expressions in every scene because of his line delivery. Natalie Portman is also exceptionally good at showing this transformation Evey is going through having met V. If you look at the Evey at the beginning and end of V for Vendetta, she is a completely different person both in character and in her appearance. It is a humongous transformation and a committed one when you learn what Natalie Portman was willing to do to achieve this.
A very underrated character and someone who goes through a similar humongous transformation is Finch, a member of the Norsefire party who has to investigate V. In the course of this film you see him start as someone following the orders of his party, but there is a seed of doubt already planted in him and that seed starts to bloom and blossom when he starts piecing together other things that have happened before V.
The graphic novel has become renowned as one of the most influential graphic novels of all time and while this, the film adaptation, alters many of the novel’s events, which would be a source of knowledge likely to gain criticism from its fans. However, there is something in the graphic novel that has been passed down to the film which is how each act seems seamless is its transition. The story presented is so well put together as each scene complements each other to show you a well-rounded film. Although the key information points to the future UK, by the end, you feel as though you know about the entire word.
There are of course those who will not enjoy this film out of moral reasoning, after all, you are being asked to sympathise with a terrorist. When this film was released in 2006, it was even harder to sympathise with V because 5 years before this, the events of 9/11 were still fresh in everyone’s minds. There are a lot of ideas presented in V for Vendetta that to some will be insightful and probably will take on board after viewing. These insights can be seen today, as the mask of V has become a recognisable image of the hacktivist group Anonymous, but I also understand that the ideas presented can not sit in some people’s heads, especially those who have a strict morality.
Something like morality however shouldn’t distract the opinion that V for Vendetta, as a film, is superbly well made. Viewing this film is to peel back layers slowly but surely that unveil a rounded story of coming togetherness and defeating oppression. The well-spoken V puts you in a comfortable position using his phonetic genius along with some beautiful stylised action.
Remember, remember to make this a must-watch on the 5th of November.