Friday, August 18, 2006


Natalie Portman V For Vendetta Directed by James McTeigue
Reviewed by Byron Merritt



A science fiction film with a message. Who would’ve thought it possible. I don’t mean this has never happened, it’s just that it hasn’t happened in quite some time. To put it in perspective, my favorite SF film was THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL. Although many people make that claim, here it is noteworthy because The Day The Earth Stood Still was a brave undertaking, commenting on the dangers of nuclear technology during a time when our government and our country felt this was a necessary evil. I’m not saying V FOR VENDETTA rates up on the same level, but it does have its moments, making us question the purpose of government and the repercussions of overstepping those purposes for its own "good" rather than the individuals it’s supposed to serve.

Coming from the Wachowski brothers who made
THE MATRIX trilogy, V has a good cast realized via the comic book of the same name but takes a while to get on track. The first third of the film was pretty slow and involved, but the latter parts made up for this.

The story is about a masked man named V (
Hugo Weaving, THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy) who was a guinea pig for a pharmaceutical company. A group of men and women have hidden their involvement with this distasteful part of history as we lunge forward to the year 2020. A totalitarian government rules England, cowing its citizens by enforcing curfews, limiting religious freedoms, and eliminating homosexuality (if you’re a gay Buddhist out after nine p.m. you’re in BIG trouble!)

Weaving a bit of history into the story, we see
Guy Fawkes Day (November 5th) taken to a whole new level. V plans to destroy Parliament because of its wickedness and the fear under which English citizens now live. Not to mention that Chancellor Sutler (John Hurt, CONTACT) is one of the pharmaceutical founders that altered V’s life forever; V has no recollection of his past, including his own name, and has an altered body chemistry allowing him superhuman agility thanks to the drugs that were tested on him. This is very bad news for those involved in screwing up his life. V is out for Vengeance, too.

But V is also lonely, so when Evey (
Natalie Portman, STAR WARS III) helps him make good an escape, he pulls her into his confidence, eventually forcing her to lose all her fears through a set of brutal tests. In Evey V sees the future of mankind, a sign that all may be made right with the world.

In a stunning climax, we watch V’s vision come to life, as fireworks blow, thousands turn out wearing Guy Fawkes/V masks, and Evey comes to understand how important change is in the world.

This film certainly won’t be for everyone. You have to think about what’s happening to really understand the message. It doesn’t smack you in the face with an obvious plot, and instead lets it seep into the viewer’s subconscious.

There are, as seen in other reviews, a lot of talk about what this film’s intent was supposed to be, and I think that speaks pretty highly for the level of sophistication needed to help one grasp V. Is he a freedom fighter or a terrorist? Anyone who wants to destroy a government must be crazy and/or an anarchist, right? How far is too far when a government wants to "protect" its citizens? These are questions the movie poses but doesn’t give answers to, and that is quite refreshing considering what Hollywood usually places in front of us (A + B = C). Connect your own dots and see where V leads you.

Click here for the V For Vendetta movie trailer!

Click here for Chad's alternate review of V For Vendetta.


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