Revisiting V for Vendetta (2005)

V for Vendetta was a decent-sized hit when it first came out but over the years it has become iconic and very much a movie for our times. The film and mask are now a symbol for rebellion and freedom (through anarchy); any time you watch the news where people are protesting their governments or injustice you’ll see people dressed as V especially groups like Anonymous where it has essentially become their uniform.

The story to the movie is about a shadowy freedom fighter known only as “V” who uses terrorist tactics to fight against his totalitarian society. Upon rescuing a girl from the secret police, he also finds his best chance at having an ally.”

Even when I watched V for Vendetta for the first time I knew it something special. I love the message behind it: “People shouldn’t be afraid of their government; governments should be afraid of their people.”

Although the comic was originally written by Alan Moore as a protest against Margaret Thatcher’s government, the film has been made relevant for a modern audience.

Hugo Weaving excels as the title character V and when an actor is willing to go through an entire movie and never reveal their face then that is the sign of true talent, without ego. You care for V and you are on his side because Weaving makes you empathize simply with his gestures and dialogue. And what dialogue; I think the script is one of the best in recent years, not just comic adaptations but movies in general. When V makes his entrance and gives his speech to Evey (Natalie Portman) it must have taken weeks to memorize it.

I have to put my hand up and say I am normally not a fan of Natalie Portman; she does OK in this though but is only let down by a pretty bad English accent. It’s certainly not the worst I’ve heard but it doesn’t quite sound natural. Apart from the weird accent, she does a decent job of portraying Evey’s personal journey; she has spent her life scared after her parents were taken away by the government, so V teaches her to lose her fear and she is eventually reborn.

John Hurt is quite terrifying but magnetic as the fascist leader Adam Sutler before being revealed (Wizard of Oz style) as a coward.

My favourite performance though belongs to the very underrated Steven Rea as Inspector Finch. He’s the man who does his job but is well aware that all is not well in dear old Blighty. He’s a very sympathetic character who just wants the truth behind all of the mysterious events with no real allegiance to anyone.

James McTiegue directs the action scenes with gusto and plenty of bloodshed; there are some exciting set pieces and the film has great visuals.

The use of music is especially important to the story; when V blows up certain buildings he will have Beethoven blaring through the speakers of the cities as a symbol for defiance. Speaking of music, the score by Dario Marionelli is also powerful and is at its best during Evey’s rebirth scene.

I still consider V for Vendetta one of the best (and most influential) comic book adaptations while also being a fascinating study of People vs. Government. it’s as relevant now as it was when it was released.