V For Vendetta is, on the surface of it, a reworked 1984 for a generation with a stunted attention span but not entirely lacking in intellectual rigor. Aside from the surface characteristics – a facist state where the only freedom is the freedom to agree with the government – the balance of the story unfolds quite differently. Dismissing V For Vendetta would be a mistake however facile it first appears.
While based on a comic series originally penned and targeted squarely at the Thatcher government in 1980’s England the scope of social and political critique is considerably larger than the generating influence. Translation to celluloid is crisp and sure with smart dialogue demanding attention from the viewer. This is what some would refer to as a film as opposed to a movie, but it is also a fast paced movie. Smart, well directed, brilliantly executed and exploiting the talents of every cast member V For Vendetta is what all movies should be.
Taking place in an unnamed but seemingly not too distant future V For Vendetta follows the life of Evey Hammond who having been rescued from the grasp of rapacious law enforcement officers by the mysterious V finds her life turned upside down as she starts to consider the state of her life and the lives of those around her. Not all is right with the world even if there isn’t a whole lot wrong with her world and this is part of the brilliance of the story. Evey has a good life. She is comfortable, she has a nice job, nice clothes, a nice flat, a good salary but that one encounter the one moment where a harsh light shines into the deep water revealing the leviathan below changes her forever.
"Remember, remember, the fifth of November, gunpowder treason and plot. I see no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot."
The simple and understated performance of Natalie Portman is further underscored by the flawless presence of Hugo Weaving as V. Being able to evoke sympathy, empathy and understanding all from behind the mask of a terrorist is without a doubt difficult and Weaving accomplishes it with grace and style. One last note is the disheveled and persistent Stephen Rea as Eric Finch could renew your faith in humanity all by itself.
V For Vendetta is a must add to any DVD collection.