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V For Vendetta (DVD, 2006, Widescreen) Reviews
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V For Vendetta (DVD, 2006, Widescreen)

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Occupy Netflix! V FOR VENDETTA

Nov 5, 2011
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Tight, stylish, it makes Anarchy look like fun.

Cons:It's hitting a little too close to home.

The Bottom Line:

Occupy Netflix!  This is the movie of the times we live in, even if it is V years old...couldn't resist the Roman Numeral....


V for Vendetta (2006) Directed by James McTeigue

Remember, remember, the Fifth of November, the Gunpowder Treason and Plot. I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot... But what of the man? I know his name was Guy Fawkes and I know, in 1605, he attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament...-Evey Hammond

The year is 2020, and the place is England, but a far cry from the Merry Ole England we know; civil war, global economy collapse, and devastating plagues have changed the world as we know it, and the totalitarian government of the Norsefire Party, led by Chancellor Adam Sutler (John Hurt) has a strangle hold, controlling every aspect of life, economy, media, law, and, importantly, medical.  They came to power 14 years ago after a terrorist attack by a bio-weapon called the St. Mary's Virus decimated the population, and spread to a worldwide pandemic.  Now, they offer security, at the price of freedom.

Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman) is a citizen of the regime, and late for a date, decides to risk the curfew...sadly she is accosted by a gang of hooligans bent on rape.  Nor does she have much recourse, since her attackers are Fingermen...the Police.  But then a mysterious figure emerges from the darkness, clad in black, and wearing a Guy Fawkes mask.  With great style and many flourishes, he subdues the villains, and invites a frightened, confused, and possibly slightly concussed Evey to watch a musical performance of his.

Atop a building they watch the concert begin.  At first Evey hears nothing...then the Emergency Broadcast system begins playing the 1812 Overture.  V (Hugo Weaving) did say he dealt mainly in percussion.  And then, as they watch, the un-blindfolded Justice atop the old Bailey is blown to smithereens.  The rest of the building follows, complete with fireworks.  It is a pyrotechnic symphony in the key of Anarchy.
Of course the Government tries to spin it as scheduled demolition, but with unscheduled fireworks, but V is not going to stand for that.  He penetrates the TV studio where Evey works, and broadcasts his own message, claiming responsibility for the act, and promising, one year hence, on the fifth of November, to complete the job Guy Fawkes failed at in 1606, and blow up Parliament, as an act of Anarchy determined to show the powerlessness of the Regime in the face of one determined man.

Evey was seen by surveillance cameras, and thus V has to provide for her safety as well, whisking her away past the platoons of police who arrive to arrest him.  They are thwarted by the fact that all the prisoners in the TV studio are wearing Guy Fawkes masks....and Evey is whisked out of her world, and into V's.

What could motivate a man to become a rebellion?  I don't use the word rebel, V was a rebellion all in and of himself.  And slowly, though Evey's eyes, and the eyes of police detective Finch (Stephen Rea) we begin to see the forces that shaped both the Government, and the man who was their nemesis.  For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and V is the reaction of all the Regime has done to England.

What effect can just one man have?  Well, he can become a symbol.  A symbol has far more power than the object it symbolizes.  It is a good message, and one I found timely.

This production flourishes under a surfeit of excellent character actors, from Stephen Fry as Evey's creative and closet boss, to Timothy Piggot Smith as Creedy, the Chancellor's left hand man, a man who can seethe and smarm at the same time.  Rupert Graves is hangdog Detective Finch's junior partner, earnest, possibly honest, possibly politically astute enough not to let that fact get him killed.  But best of all is John Hurt as the Chancellor.  John Hurt is excellent in anything they let him do, but he does evil the best, and unbridled evil the very best of all.  Here, they turn him loose and let him chew on the scenery in a way he hasn't gotten to do since playing Caligula.  It is marvelous!

Nor does James McTeigue disappoint as director, in this, his first solo effort.  The pacing is tight, with nothing lagging, and nothing feeling rushed.  He does not linger lovingly over the explosions; they have their place, they make their statement, and then he is ready to move on to the human reaction to the explosion, and its implications.  He has lovingly crafted in the themes of the original Alan Moore work, the preponderance of the letter V, the number 5, and many wonderful historical references, just a quick for instance; Big Ben shows the time as 11:05, which stands for November the Fifth, and the hands of the clock make a V within the circle of the clock face, V's calling card.

How does it compare to the original Graphic Novel by Alan Moore?  Not all that well; Alan Moore writes for Graphic Novels, not movies.  Liberties must be taken in adaptation.  This seems to make Mr. Moore grumpy.  Then again, I think puppies make Mr. Moore grumpy.  The man is a genius, and we must overlook these shortcomings; I don't foresee him ever being happy with a film adaptation of his work he does not personally direct.  And I doubt any movie he would make would make big box office.  His medium is the comic.  His gift is in inspiring others.  That is what has happened here.

I enjoyed the film immensely the first time around; the complexities of V and Evey's relationship, the slow unfolding of the story like a Scarlet Carson blooming, the interesting psychology of obsession, and revolution, all were incredibly compelling.  Can one man derail a fascist state?  Can one woman make a difference?

Yet it has taken on darker and more sinister tones in the past five years, and now as we begin to uncover the rise of the Corporate Take-Over, you see Occupy Wall Street protesters sporting Guy Fawkes masks.  It is a little creepy, a little disconcerting, but also comforting.  I don't think I am the one who needs to be worried.
People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.-V


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