Distributed by Warner Brothers Studio
Reviewed by Ismael Manzano
I first saw a preview for V for Vendetta--the adaptation of a popular D.C. Vertigo graphic novel--while watching Underworld: Evolution in the theater, right after a preview for Ultraviolet. My wife was enthralled with the visuals of Ultraviolet while I was fascinated with the possibility of V. ďIt looks like it could be a good movie, if you can get over the guy in the French barmaid mask,Ē were my exact words. And this was before I knew that the Wachowski brothers and Hugo Weaving were involved. All I knew was that Natalie Portman was starring, and that was good enough for me. So I made a deal to suffer through Ultraviolet, in exchange for going to see V. And as bad as Ultraviolet was, it was worth the tradeoff.
V for Vendetta centers on London of the near future. America has supposedly self-destructed, and a man named Adam Sutler (John Hurt) has effectively taken over England and rules it with Nazi-like ethics and iron curtain tactics. Basically, itís all the worst of every dictatorship rolled into one, a country where freedom is a forgotten ideal, and speaking against the regime gets you a black bag over your head and a firing squad. Amid this turmoil a young woman named Evey (Natalie Portman) stumbles into trouble with the secret police and is rescued by a man named V (Hugo Weaving), whose favorite choice of music, is the percussion of bombs blowing up buildings.
Despite her innocence, Evey is linked to V and the police are after her, hoping sheíll lead them to the masked terrorist. It isnít long before the fate of both their lives are irrevocably tied together, leading her on an unpredictable and dangerous path from which she may never be able to turn away.
As an offset to the tyrannical Sulter, Detective Finch (Stephen Rea) is the one shining light in a police force that has long since swallowed the propaganda of the media. Heís out to find and stop V, but along the way, he finds that there is more to the mysterious masked man, and his connection with his victims than he realized, and it isnít long before heís knee deep in a mystery whose reach goes all the way to Sulter himself. But will Finch accept the truth before its too late? Can V stand alone against the oppressive forces of Londonís government forever? Can Evey find the strength to shed her fear and become the hero she wishes she was?
In case you havenít been able to tell already, I loved this movie. Aside from an awkward beginning in which V spews a string of similar sounding syllables in a speech to Evey, I was riveted from beginning to end. It wasnít just the action scenes that made the movie great. There was a very detailed plot, an intricate mystery that unfolded slowly for the benefit of the audience, and the emergence of a hero from the cocoon of an ingťnue. The characters were real and the themes universal, making V for Vendetta the kind of movie that is easy to get lost in. It deals with freedom and choice and individuality, and as an American, these themes spoke to me and got my blood pumping with excitement.
And while in this day and age some might find it hard to get behind a character that is, essentially, a terrorist, I found that, in the face of such unbridled tyranny as was John Hurtís character, it was hard not to route for the terrorist. If you think you might not feel the same way, then this movie isnít for you. For the rest of you, youíre sure to get a kick out of it.
So go out and see the movie as soon as you can, and be sure to buy when it comes out on DVD. Until then, remember, remember, the fifth of November; itíll make sense when you watch the movie.