Director: James McTeigue
Cast: Hugo Weaving, Natalie Portman, John Hurt, Stephen Fry
He’s the knife of the party.
Sparking off with a brief look at the 1605 failure of Fawkes and his gunpowder gang, V For Vendetta’s timeline then jumps ahead some four centuries to modern(ish) day London and the dystopian vision of a country run by the militant Norsefire party. Propagandist news networks churn out bigoted vitriol 24/7, their every lie a direct contradiction of the ideologies that they claim to uphold.
Evey Hammond – played by a downbeat Natalie Portman – is one of the unfortunate, obediently insignificant inhabitants of this totalitarian state. One night after curfew hours, she has an encounter with Norsefire’s Gestapo, the ‘fingermen’ – as a rule of thumb, you don’t want to piss them off. Before they have their vicious fun, however, she is saved by a violent vigilante with a voraciously varied vocabulary. ‘V’ turns the fingermen into the fingerlessmen (he kills them) and takes Evey under his revolutionary wing. Played by Hugo Weaving, V is revenge incarnate, the masked manifestation of all the hate and injustice that plagues the land. His main hobbies include knifing people, classical music and terrorism, and soon he puts them to egalitarian use.
James McTeigue’s direction is fantastic, evocative of the fear and confusion bred within a Nazi-esque regime, and he constantly surprises with his theatrically inventive camera work. V For Vendetta is edited superbly too, the only fault lying in the repetitive in-your’face images of the ‘common people’, who ,with the exception of children, seem to all be grumbling grey-haired lager swillers. As for the action, it’s executed with exceptional flair and Matrix-like grace (McTeigue was assistant director on the trilogy). That being said, they should have gone whole hog with the violence and made it an 18 – this would sit more comfortably with the adult tone of the film, which examines torture, homophobia, genocide and paedophilia with unflinching honesty.
V For Vendetta has a perfect cast, with Hugo Weaving’s inspiring enunciation and enthusiasm driving the revolutionary soul of the film. A turn from Stephen Fry brightens things up a bit, but most interesting of all is John Hurt’s *wound*erful performance as Norsefire party leader Adam Sutler. Twenty years prior, Hurt was playing man-against-the-system Winston Smith in Orwell adaptation Nineteen Eighty Four, and he does dictator just as well as he does simpering prole-sympathiser.
‘Where’s V?’ was much, much harder than its predecessor.
The film has a legacy beyond its box office success – yes, the DC graphic novel came first, but McTeigue’s movie propelled it into the public eye. V’s Machiavellian disguise is now a symbol for anarchists everywhere; most notably, it is used as the anti-scientologist face of the ‘Anonymous’ army. V for Vendetta is a brilliant film, and it deserves its place amongst the ranks of Equilibirum and Brazil that make up the dystopian elite.