Searing, complex, gut-wrenching political thriller with gorgeous visuals and fantastic performances.
"Remember, remember, the fifth of November; the gun powder treason and plot.
I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot."
V for Vendetta is a fantastic movie. A riveting character portrait, a thrilling action movie, and a sobering political commentary, this is one of the most thought provoking and compelling graphic novel adaptations of all time. Its dissection of the fascist ideology and the psychology of revolution is near flawless, using well-written characters and a complex story to illustrate a terrifying political dystopia and the hope brewing within. The film is set in an alternate timeline where fascism prevails in Britain. The regime, lead by John Hurt as Adam Susan, has cracked down upon free thinking, banned artistic expression, and brutally persecutes minorities. Then one night before the fifth of November, a masked freedom fighter known simply as V rescues and befriends a young woman named Evey Hammond. The rest of the film focuses on the characters' back stories, Evey's transformation, the government's pursuit of V, and V's efforts to sir up revolution. There are some truly powerful scenes, ones which made me hold my breath, clench my fists, and agonize in anticipation. The performances here are uniformly phenomenal. Hugo Weaving is dazzling as V, a hardened vigilante with a deeply traumatic past. Weaving's line delivery is charismatic, visceral, and at times emotional. Despite his visage never making its way into the film, his performance is stunning. I barely recognized Natalie Portman here. Her performance was incredible. Its subtle when it needs to be, and jaw-dropplingly potent at the film's most dramatic moments. I was delighted to see Stephen Fry in this film, one of my favourite intellectuals of our times. He plays a character named Gregory, and knowing his philosophical and political orientation, the choice to cast him seemed perfect. The movie, as you might have gleaned from my four star rating, isn't perfect. It can get a tad uneven in the second act (one scene in particular feels completely out of place), and the political commentary isn't subtle in the least. It would've been better if the Wachowskis (esteemed writer/directors of 'The Matrix) had trusted the audience to put the pieces together themselves. But V for Vendetta's beautiful direction/cinematography, brilliant acting, and moving political implications overshadow the movie's flaws. Highly recommended.