Government defying action, controversial subplots, high drama, conspiracies and endless political elements fill James McTeigue’s directorial debut, based on the graphic novel created by Alan Moore and David Lloyd set in a futuristic London, England.
Andy and Larry Wachowski, the filmmaking team behind The Matrix film series, produce a strong, smart plot, which wisely minimizes shock value, parallels and lengthy justifications of V’s actions, but instead presents several ideas and lets the audience decide for themselves.
This film begins with intrigue and ends with solid results from great character development of the two lead characters: Evey, well played by Natalie Portman, and the mysterious V, played by a perfectly cast Hugo Weaving (The Matrix) in a unique role that features his familiar voice.
As Evey quietly works as a television station assistant, fate seems to connect her to V. She becomes involved in his personal journey (planned for 20 years), which consequently initiates her own powerful journey. “You’re like a crazy person,” Evey says to V as she first hears his ‘voracious vernacular.’ Lucky timing and Evey’s past are the only reasons this relationship bonds as the plot forges a Beauty and the Beast like relationship among the behind-the-scenes political drama.
In the beginning, this film peppers you with quick background on Guy Fawkes, a historical revolutionist, followed by even quicker dialogue from V, who wears the mask of Fawkes. V wears the mask for necessity and ideology to create a revolution against a seemingly isolated dictatorship that came to power due to a chaotic world environment.
John Hurt (Contact, The Elephant Man) plays Chancellor Sutler, who commands a panel of key government agents and numerous Fingermen who patrol the streets. This government also saturates the media as the public are fed questionable news stories and strong rhetoric from a popular talk show host who loves hearing the sound of his own voice.
Finch, a key government agent played by Stephen Rea (The Crying Game, Interview With The Vampire) feeds the audience key details about V and Evey throughout his investigation. “For better or worse, she’s stuck with him,” says Finch. Finch’s frustration and curiosity grows as key documents are mysteriously missing from government archives. A rival agent named Creedy threatens to take over the case when Finch’s investigative skills begin to uncover sensitive government areas.
V’s elaborate plan puts faith in an idea not a man, because man can fail. He utilizes very public ‘displays’ so his ideals can win over the people in a government state where fear has robbed them of their common sense. Eventually, the public take action on the streets of London, which builds to a climax where the public come into the forefront of V’s cause.
V makes no apologizes for taking lives and eventually passes the protagonist torch to Evey and Finch who carry the last third of the movie as his revealed past draws sympathy, but most importantly, his motives are understood. He knows us better than we know ourselves, says Finch. V even narrates as the action he envisioned in his plan actually happens, leading to the film’s climax.
This two hour and 12 minute action/drama comes recommended with a few reservations (**1/2 out of four stars) and is rated R for violence, sexual content and language. Originally scheduled for release on November 5, 2005, the 400th anniversary of Guy Fawkes’ capture.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler