V FOR VENDETTA combines larger than life action with a real, timely political message. Written by the Wachowskis and directed by James McTeigue, the second unit director of the MATRIX trilogy, V FOR VENDETTA adapts Alan Moore and David Lloyd's groundbreaking comic book series of the same name.
Evey (Natalie Portman) is a production assistant living in a post-slightly-less-than-apocalyptic world in which the British government has installed totalitarian rule over its people. After being attacked and nearly raped by government officials, Evey is saved by V (Hugo Weaving), a theatrically garbed terrorist. And V is a terrorist, let us not forget. He uses bombings and murder to sell his message to a complacent society of couch potatoes. His actions are no better than those of the terrorists responsible for 9/11. The ability of the filmmakers to create a sympathetic hero in V is a testament to their skill. Weaving masterfully captures the dark nature of his character. Leaving behind any memories of his previous roles (THE MATRIX or LORD OF THE RINGS), Weaving creates an engaging personality that drips with charisma and a desperate need for closure. Though he is driven by vengeance and hatred, audiences will empathize with V's mission, and some may eventually agree with it. Much like the kidnapping of Patty Hearst, Evey slowly begins to absorb V's teachings after being sucked into his machinations. Portman's performance is as believable as the character's arc is strong. There is a distinct beginning and end for Portman's character, leaving audiences satisfied with the film's conclusion.
Similar to 1984 or FAHRENHEIT 451, the story has all the trappings of a solid dystopian future: evil government, complacent public and a hero willing to risk it all for a single message of hope. While the comic book series was originally published between 1982 and 1985, the filmmakers have updated the story for today's political climate. Themes such as intolerance, invasion of privacy and repression of minority thought are all timeless, but specific political hot topics such as Islam, gay marriage and Avian flu find their way into the film and resonate with today's audiences.
The film's message is not of anarchy, but instead focuses on the sheer power of an idea. A man can be killed, but an idea never dies. All the terrible things V does are done with the sole intention of waking up the public and reminding it of the power of ideas. Teetering on moral ambiguity, the movie remains a tough sell, but the message is just as important now as it was in 1982.