Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Canon Movie Review: V for Vendetta

Recently, Canon Review reader Ben W. requested that I watch the movie V for Vendetta and write up a review on it. Well, some two weeks later, I have finally gotten around to it. V for Vendetta is a 2006 film produced and written by the Wachowski Brothers (The Matrix, Speed Racer) and directed by James McTeigue. Based off of a series of graphic novels by Alan Moore (The Watchmen), V for Vendetta stars Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Fry, Stephen Rea, and John Hurt. In V for Vendetta, a rebel known simply as V (Weaving) tries to bring down a totalitarian government in futuristic Britian. Along the way, he meets a young woman named Evey Hammond (Portman) after rescuing her from a group of policemen. On Guy Fawkes Day, V blows up the Old Bailey courthouse, and promises to blow up the Parliament building on the next Guy Fawkes Day.  A few notes about this film, and there are spoilers ahead, so if you haven't seen it, than I suggest you enjoy another fine post at The Canon Review.

-  Hugo Weaving plays the titular character V, and even though he is behind a mask the whole movie, Weaving manages to make V a larger than life character due to his voice acting and use of body language. Even though his facial expression never changes, Weaving is able to convincingly portray V as angry or compassionate or humourous or whatever emotion the script calls for. I feel that Weaving was perfectly cast as V, which is somewhat odd because he was not the first choice for V, as he was to be played by James Purefoy. But Purefoy apparently had trouble with the mask, so Weaving was called in as a replacement.

- As for the rest of the cast, Natalie Portman did an excellent job as Evey Hammond, a young woman who found herself heavily involved in V's quest for revenge and rebellion, and really V's only true friend. To be honest, I had my doubts about whether or not Portman could pull off a role like this, but I must admit that I was wrong, and she was nearly as great as Weaving in this film. Stephen Fry also does an excellent job as Evey's boss and friend Gordon Dietrich, while Stephen Rea more than holds his own as the dogged inspector Eric Finch, who in the course of his investigation of V finds out a little more than he had bargained for. However, even though Rea is a talented actor, I don't think the film's script explained properly the type of person and the beliefs that Rea's character had.

- It is safe to say that this movie has a rather anti-government slant, to say the least. With the exception of Rea, there seemed to be no redeemable qualities of the men that were in charge of the government or had major roles in the government. The men in charge seemed to be either sniveling cowards unable or unwilling to own up to their mistakes or men of great cruelty who would shoot somebody in cold blood without provocation if they felt that person was a threat of any sort to their government. Meanwhile, V is portrayed as the great hero, almost a savior type figure, but he is not afraid to spill the blood of innocents if it means getting vengeance on those that have wronged him. Evey, unsurprisingly, was kind of disgusted by V's rather militant and aggressive ways. To me, I think the film portrayed the two sides as too one-dimensional, as the government is automatically evil while the terrorist is the true hero in this film. I really think they made it too simple, if that makes any sense. In situations such as this, things aren't as black and white as this film made it out to be, and I feel that by glorifying V and portraying the government as the most despicable of people, the film almost seemed to be calling for some sort of anarchist to rise up and take control. Yes, it's just a movie, and yes, V probably was justified in pursuing revenge in the way he did, but I just don't feel we got enough justification from the other side, as instead the film makers chose to portray them as one-dimensional evil archetypes. Just my opinion.

- Since this is a Wachowski Brothers picture based off of a comic book, I somewhat expected that the film would be full of over-the-top special effects and explosions and whatnot. However, although there are a few special effects and explosions, the director James McTeigue does not rely on them like a crutch, unlike the way the last two Matrix films did. McTeigue and cinematographer Adrain Biddle (who died shortly after completion of the film) were able to captivate the mood and spirit of the story and were able to enhance the film with their excellent use of shadowing and visuals. The explosions in this film are quite memorable, which is something I usually don't say in a film review, and the final fight scene was quite well done, even if it went a little over the top with the amount of gore. Also, I must say that the score provided by Dario Marianelli really added a lot to the film as well.

- I'm not going to say too much about it, because I don't want to spoil it, but if I had experienced what Evey experienced at the hands of V, I don't think I would be that understanding of his actions, whatever his motives may have been. Just saying.

Overall, this is quite a good film that is well acted, well filmed, and has a story that will really make you think after seeing the film. My only real complaint is that, except for Evey, V, and Dietrich, every other character in the film seems to be too one-dimensional. But every other aspect of the film is well-done, so overall, I'd give V for Vendetta an 8.5 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any comments about this or previous posts, or ideas for future reviews or posts, than share them either by leaving a comment or by sending me an e-mail at


  1. I agree about Hugo Weaving; in my mind, he is the only person that could have done that with V. He has a great voice, and he can do wonders with it.

    But when Weaving dresses like a woman(Priscilla), that's when he's not so great.....but I still love him lots. :D

  2. Yes, I don't think I want to see Hugo Weaving dressed in drag.

  3. Good review - I agree very much with what you said. I think the film was trying to create an ethical dilemma and sense of moral ambiguity for the audience (eg. Is V a freedom fighter or terrorist? Are his actions justified or is he is bad as those he is fighting? Does the end justify the means? etc). However, it ran dangerously close to losing this central aspect, on account of the one dimensional portrayal of many of its characters. I understand the book was less black and white in this sense. Good movie though!