"V For Vendetta"
by Alan Moore and David Lloyd
"V For Vendetta"
A man in a mask. A smiling face, in black and white, with a blush. And, behind it, a man ravaged by a corrupt political system he can't forget or forgive. If not for what it did to partially destroy him, then for what the prevailing dictatorship is doing to the people in a totalitarian Britain of the future. Vengeance is his need and what he lives for--a powerful waking up of a society that accepts Adam Sutler, a raging Hitlerian tyrant (John Hurt) and his ruling elite as though there's a coolaid of compliance running in the water system and blinding them to their own deprivations.
But the clarity of V's plans are disturbed one night when a young working class woman named Evey (Natalie Portman) dares to tread a narrow alley at night and is waylayed by some bully miscreants with badges. Fortunately for her, V (Hugo Weaving) happens by. Unfortunately for him, he falls in love with her. A love that can't be requited nor physically satisfied. It's an emotion he didn't think he was capable of since he walked out of a fire of destruction. What he feels for the girl alters the formula of his designs to seek retribution as a commemoration of Guy Fawkes who, on a day in 1605 was caught trying to engineer a rebellion with 36 barrels of gunpowder under the parliament building. He was strung up for treason.
Now, on the anniversary of the event he takes his rescued damsel home, to a lair that's suitable for such a savior who's been laying wait. It's no batcave, but lack of taste and funding is no issue for this hermit. There's no threat of molestation, either, though he impresses the girl with his powers early on, like a suitor --if an unwilling one-- might. From a commanding post atop a building, V orchestrates the blowup of the Old Bailey, an architectural landmark that has come to symbolize the evil behind the current laws. To the accompaniment of Nationalistic music on city speakers and bursting fireworks, he declares his threat to the evils of the Sutler's regime and promises a conclusive end to Sutler's represion.
Evey is very impressed with the theatre of V's display, as are we. The reactionary leader and his government are put on notice that a demon is afoot who threatens their rule. They are enraged, Sutler brands him a terrorist, though clearly that's not what he is. It's only the officials and their army that need fear his wrath. In the harsh cadence of a madman that's clearly modeled on the leader of the Reich, Sutler puts his chiefs to work, including chief investigator Finch (Stephen Rea) whose even-handed humanity will be touched by what his discoveries lead to.
As Evey's eyes are opened on what she and the society have come to consider the norm, and as she becomes aware of the issues and complexities involved with V's vendetta, she becomes a much more involved ally and partner in his enterprise that he anticipated.
V's efforts to complete the revolution that James Fawkes tried to start inspire visual effects, action, atmospheric adventure and the delineation of a society's susceptibility to the diffusion of evil control and is derived with panache and cinematic capability from the imagery of Alan Moore and David Lloyd's graphic novel (of the same title) that appeared under the Vertigo/DC banner in 26 monthly installments starting in 1981. Another cult was born then, to be revived by this, the product of the Wachowski Brothers' first script since their "Matrix" trilogy and sharp, if overextended, direction by James McTeigue.
With elements of Batman, "The Phantom of the Opera," George Orwell ("1984"), Jackie Chan-style martial arts, World War II fascism and its screechingly intense leader, and the wide genre of the comics Superhero, "V For Vendetta" is well timed to avoid competition with others containing boxoffice-commanding sensory assaults. "X-Men: The Last Stand," for example, is cooling its heels awaiting a late summer release.
But its success will come largely from its own good elements: a fetching Natalie Portman, a flawed-hero mystery figure who stands for righteousness, and an arch villain powerfully realized by a seething John Hurt... it makes for a fierce rival to any comparable fan followship.
Exploitation can be fun.
The Soundtrack Album
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