ALL about… V For Vendetta

Andrew Gaug

PHOTO COURTESY OF WARNERBROS. PICTURES

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Government corruption, the public being listened in on without their discretion and violence being blamed on the godlessness of society.

No movie currently playing holds more relevance than V For Vendetta. But does relevancy make for a good movie? The answer is not so simple.

V For Vendetta

Starring Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea

Directed by James McTeigue

Rated R for strong violence and some language

Stater rating: * * ½

At best, Vendetta follows in the footsteps of movies such as A Clockwork Orange and the 1984-inspired Equilibrium as an eye-opening cautionary tale of what could happen if the government gets too much power and the people become apathetic.

Unfortunately, it also tries to be a mystery, cop thriller and romance film, and ultimately ends up being a jumble of ideas where some pan out and others fizzle.

The movie begins by telling the story of Guy Fawkes, an English anarchist who attempted to blow up Parliament on November 5 in hopes of creating a new government. Fawkes’ plans were thwarted when he was caught and tortured by British police.

Flash forward to 2020. The audience is introduced to V, a knife-wielding antihero who wears a Guy Fawkes mask, and Evey, an employee for the government-controlled British Television Network. Their paths cross when V saves Evey from being raped and killed by British police after they catch her violating the government-enforced curfew.

From there, the movie has a constant struggle finding the right pacing. Throughout the film’s first half, the audience is given little background to either V or Evey, and the information that is given later on in the film, although essential, does little to flesh either one out. This is problematic because for a large portion of the movie the audience is watching characters they want to care for, but aren’t given many reasons why they should.

The same problem occurs with supporting characters as well. Via flashbacks, the audience is shown why they should hate the film’s various villains, but they’re all killed off far too quickly, leaving the audience to feel indifferent about their deaths.

Even likable characters, such as a wisecracking variety show host, give the film some much-needed charisma and charm, but they fade away not long after they appear, as if not to overshadow the main characters.

Vendetta is based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore – although he has asked to be given no credit to the actual movie. It is adapted by The Matrix creators, the Wachowski brothers, and, at points, it’s obvious. Vendetta suffers from some of the problems that hurt the Matrix series – such as a tacked-on romantic subplot and pretentious slow-motion shots such as when Evey stands out to feel the rain for the first time in a long while, a la The Shawshank Redemption.

Regardless of its writing flaws, first-time director James McTeigue seems to know what works. The best moments in the movie happen when it breaks it overly serious tone and shows a sense of humor in scenes such as a “Benny Hill”-esque government satire and the reactions the characters give to some of the intentionally over-the-top dialogue. The action scenes, which are few and far between, are fast and well-choreographed.

What Vendetta may lack in its storytelling, it makes up for in visualization. The red, gray and black color schemes of England perfectly capture a bleak futuristic city whose color and vibrancy have been sucked out by its government. The movie remains dark throughout without ever literally becoming too dark (i.e. Batman Begins), and scenes such as a building exploding with fireworks are vivid in color and create the most poignant scenes in the movie.

The performances by the entire cast are impressive. Natalie Portman continues to prove to be a versatile actress who brings energy and feeling to Evey. Matrix alum Hugo Weaving has fun with the dialogue he’s given as V, and has the necessary voice skills needed to carry a character that hides behind a fiberglass mask throughout the film.

Overall, Vendetta is a movie made with the intent to get its audience to think, and it doesn’t shy away from tossing some thoughtful social commentary into the mix. If it were more focused on being a politically charged action film than trying to be a movie that spans across all genres, it could’ve been an excellent film.

V For Vendetta’s mantra is “Remember, remember the fifth of November.” But it will be tough to say whether this movie will be remembered long after its audience has left the theater.

Contact ALL correspondent Andrew Gaug at [email protected]