Vigorously venturesome with vociferous virtues that verge on being venerable but which verily fall a little short.
V for Vendetta is, in many respects, one of the great films of the 2000’s. However as many things as it does very well, there’s seemingly always something else following it up which I’m not so keen on. Hugo Weaving’s V is fantastic; both his performance and the character himself. He leaps off the screen and is incredibly memorable as a sort of filmic, Count of Monte Cristo–esque dark angel. In addition to him the movie and cast make multiple brave choices in subject matter and performance; perhaps the most obvious being placing a terrorist/freedom fighter, who is targeting a form of Britain, as the film’s hero.
There is a good sense of fun here; V brings a lot of welcome humour to the screen, and there are several little knowing nods to the audience such as John Hurt having played Winston Smith in 1984 now playing a version of Big Brother. This lightness is very much offset by the many sensitive cultural issues which are brought up. Seeing news reports of terrorist attacks in London and deaths at schools is of course all so very sobering, and it’s a credit to the movie that it never comes too close to home as to make the rest of the movie seem flippant. It’s very well balanced, with tragic subjects and exciting action scenes, social commentary and slapstick humour sitting comfortably alongside one another.
There are a couple of romance subplots here; one is vital to the story and themes of the piece, the other is surprisingly throw away and just feels like it’s there because big budget movies normally have romantic plots. It’s disappointing to say the least after witnessing all the daring choices which the film makes. There are also times when Evey (Portman) comes across as very two dimensionally written. I’m aware that this mostly comes from the book, but I by no means accept that as an excuse. Things can be altered from the original source in order to better a character. Also, the combination of Portman’s accent and Evey’s childlike questioning results in her far too often sounding ridiculously naive and that somewhat grates. She gets better as the character matures, but it’s really a little bit too little too late by the time it’s fixed. This isn’t an attack on Portman who doesn’t do a bad job, more an unfortunate combination of her voice and the writing of her character.
So, whilst in my eyes V for Vendetta is not flawless with its bad character writing and the occasional disappointing lapse into formulaic plotting, it is still a pretty special film which you really ought to see if you haven’t already. There are plenty of memorable scenes, two in particular being real highlights, and V himself is a wonderfully vibrant character. If for no other reason, and there are many others I assure you, this film should be celebrated just simply because it was allowed to be made at all. In a world where I flick onto the news and read about countries still imposing restrictions and bans on their populaces, it’s a welcome reminder of how lucky I am to be able to sit down, in England, and watch such a film.
What is the film’s greatest strength? There’s a lot to like here but I’ll go with Hugo Weaving’s V.
Its greatest weakness? The writing of Portman’s character.
Would I see it again? Yes, it’s not perfect but it’s worth multiple watches.
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