Monday, April 03, 2006

V for Vendetta Review

Just got back from watching the Watchowski's latest production "V for Vendetta", and my general impression is:


I'll admit to knowing absolutely nothing about the comic on which the movie is based so I had no real expectations of the film, although I have a great deal of respect for Hugo Weaving's acting skills. In that regard, I was not let down in the slightest. Despite the fact that "V" (the main character) never removes his mask throughout the film, Weaving breathes such life into the role that his presence seems to burst from the screen. He commands any scene he's in, although never in such a way that he seems to overly "dominate" the movie - for example, the scene where he takes Evey (Natalie Portman) to the roof after her prison experience, he is both present, yet recessive - melding into the background to let Portman play her part in arguably one of the finest points in the entire movie - possibly surpassing even the "finale".

Natalie Portman does an excellent job as Evey, but I think her best roles are still to come. There is a subtle, but definitely discernable, difference in the way she plays her role compared to Weaving. Of course the two characters are completely different, yet Weaving seems to really become his character in a way that Portman only touches on at various points throughout the movie. No doubt many viewers will disagree with me, but that's the impression I received.

The story and script itself are quite simply inspired. The Watchowskis have again interwoven many different themes throughout the film, adding a level of depth and meaning to what could have otherwise been typical comic book fare (Fantastic Four movie, anyone?). Simple and blunt on a level that will appeal to the typical action fan, it also contains a rich tapestry of thought-provoking philosophical, moral and esoteric content for those who have more than a passing interest in such subjects. Themes such as "Mask as Personality" are among the more obvious, with others like Reincarnation and Jungian-esque Universal Archetypes are hinted at and left for the viewer to explore in their own space. The previously-mentioned rooftop scene had me wondering if perhaps the Watchowskis are familiar with Boris Mouravieff's writings on the subject of the esoteric "Second Birth"?

The plot can be considered a fairly simple one - a man fights back against the forces of a repressive totalitarian regime - yet the way that the plot unfolds and the various characters and themes are developed are what makes this age-old story a breath of fresh air. The political allegory is extremely pointed and relevant to the current world situation - even going so far as to drop some veiled references about a few of the more popular "conspiracy theories" people are discussing at the moment. Eg: Economic downfall and civil war in the US; Biologically-engineered viruses unleashed by madmen; fake terror attacks; the establishment of the surveillance state and the draconian enforcement of law; fusion of church and government; establishment of a climate of fear to increase the grip on citizen psychology - and of course, the role of the media as a "mind control" mechanism that enables only selective information and perceptions to reach the general public.

One might wonder if the film will be somewhat prescient given the rhetoric being expounded by various world leaders at the moment, but then one might wonder if one is perhaps being a tad cynical? ;-)

Speaking of world leaders, Jon Hurt's performance of dictator Adam Sutler is also excellent. It is somewhat ironic (perhaps intentionally on the part of the Watchowskis and director James McTeigue) that although we never see the face of "V", the face of Sutler looms large in Big Brother-esque style in virtually every scene he is in. Sutler's generals and thugs are characterised quite well, and it seems that a good deal of thought went into the construction of a realistic portrait of the pathological psychology that drives them.

There are also quite a few other supporting cast members that play important roles in the film, with Stephen Fry bringing his trademark warmth and good humour to the movie in the form of a popular late-night comedy show host. I'm not too familiar with many of the other actors, but whomever did the casting deserves a pat on the back for their perspicacity.

One other pleasant aspect of the film was its British "flavour". The accents, slang terms and curses were undeniably British, and the reference to the "Benny Hill theme" was a great piece of comic relief in what is otherwise a fairly dark movie. The production values and cinematography were slick and very Hollywood-esque, yet the America-centric cultural focus that always tends to creep into even the most "neutral" blockbusters was refreshingly absent in this film. The very few references made to the US were only in passing and depicted a decaying, humbled nation - something that you don't see very often in American movies!

There is so much more that I would like to say about this film, but I'm going to try and keep this review spoiler-free, so I'll leave it at that for now.

Overall - 5 out of 5 stars. I think I'll be seeing it a few more times before the DVD release!


At 2:20 pm, Blogger Joel V said...

I loved V for Vendetta! It was one of the best movies that I have seen lately! I loved how this movie made me think about everything that was going on in the movie. It definitely kept me tuned into the movie! I am definitely going to be seeing this movie again very soon. I rented it from Blockbuster and I loved it! I know that Blockbuster has a promotion where you can receive unlimited movie rentals for free in Blockbuster stores through July 4th. When you rent a Blockbuster movie that's priced at $2.99, you can rent another movie that is priced at $1.99 or less free for the first day! Whenever you are done watching the free movie, return to the Blockbuster store as much as you want to another free rental through July 4th. As a customer and employee of DISH Network, I also know that if you switch to DISH Network, you can get 3 months of Blockbuster free! You get movies like V for Vendetta and thousands of others! I suggest going to to get all the information!


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