V for Vendetta - 2005
V for Vendetta was co-written, produced and edited by The Wachowskis, following up their shaky landing of the Matrix Trilogy. The screenplay was adapted from a comic book run of the same name from the legend Alan Moore (Watchmen, The Killing Joke and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen). They tapped their second unit director from the Matrix trilogy, James McTeigue, to make his directorial debut. The story centers around a future Britain that is run by a tyrannical government and how one man, V, sets out to become the idea behind a rebel movement trying to overthrow the government.
Our main protagonist chooses to wear a Guy Fawkes mask to hide his identity because he believes it’s not the man behind the mask that matters, but the idea. A man can die, but an idea is bulletproof. Moore took inspiration from Bonfire Night, an annual event to commemorate the night in 1605 when Guy Fawkes lead a group in a conspiracy to assassinate the Protestant King James I of England and replace him with a Catholic head of state. So, remember, remember, the 5th of November.
The Wachowskis had a field day adapting the story to parallel the events of the 2000s in the United States and how the public viewed the government. Within the movie they manage to touch on government surveillance, torture, fear mongering and media manipulation, not to mention corporate corruption and religious hypocrisy.
Some topics were a little heavy-handed - for instance, the government is ruled by the Norsefire regime, which mirrors Hitler’s Nazi Party by cracking down on homosexuals, outside religions and anybody who speaks out against the government - but overall this movie is built on the back bone of a social message that is, essentially, the government should be run as the voice of the people.
While V for Vendetta can be viewed as a social-commentary-driven movie, it can also be enjoyed as a fast-paced action political thriller. As we go along in V and Evey’s journey we start to discover all the evils this government has done and why he has set out to stop them. During this journey, we also get multiple, extremely well-choreographed fight scenes. Many of the fight scenes and specially the final fight scene, were directed by The Wachowskis and they benefit from it, since by this movie they had three action movies under their belts.
This movie also has a stellar Great Britain cast (Stephen Fry, John Hurt, Tim Pigott-Smith and Stephen Rea, just to name a few) and Natalie Portman as Evey, an employee of a TV station who is saved by V and roped in to his master plan to overthrow the government. Portman serves as our vehicle into this post-apocalyptic world. V is wonderfully played by Hugo Weaving as he is always behind the mask and his performance 100% depends on his tone and line delivery. The first time they meet each other Weaving had to deliver a long-winded monologue in which almost every other word he says starts with the letter V. It’s one of the more unique character introductions I have seen, this coming right after he beat up a few guards who wanted to rape Evey . Quick note, V was originally going to be portrayed by James Purefoy (The Killing), but he dropped out after six weeks of filming citing issues with the fact that he had to wear the mask for the entire movie, further proving that Weaving went above and beyond for the role.
V for Vendetta is the type of movie that always manages to have something interesting going on from scene to scene, always keeping the audience’s interest alive and well. Weaving’s performance is mesmerizing, and knowing that it’s solely dependent on his voice adds to the mystique. This movie genre has seen a drought recently, with Captain America: Winter Soldier being the last good one to come out. The Wachowski’s are currently going through a slump, but movies like this one showcase their talents that I hope one day in the near future they can comeback too. Hugo Weaving delivering the epic V monologue while wearing a mask and a wig is why I love movies.
V for Vendetta is currently streaming on Netflix. Just remember to watch it.
If you like this review let me know in the comment section down below. Also, follow me over at Twitter (@yILovemovies) or over on Facebook, so you can be up to date with all my reviews.