The Plot of This Satirical Film Brings Itself Close to George Orwell’s “1984”
“V for Vendetta” is a daring and imaginative view of Britain as a fascist state in the 2020s. The character V (Hugo Weaving) is thrillingly a Batman, Joker, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and Shakespeare rolled into one.
A visually striking and compelling sci-fi concept as it is, this graphic novel adaptation breathes a different air from the most overused of Hollywood genres involving comic book superheroes. Being a thought-provoking political allegory, it tends to fascinate the viewers with its unpredictability. It brings a new stylistic form to an old issue.
Set in a futuristic England, the country is ruled by the tyrant Adam Sutler (John Hurt). His character seems pegged on and inspired by Adolf Hitler and Big Brother. The citizens live in fear of the totalitarian society. Here, V leads a new kind of revolutionary movement. His aim is to kindle a spark of hope in a stylistic, intelligent, and ambitious form. There is that irony of elaborating a story of a terrorist-as-hero behind a smiling mask, a smooth black wig, and a flowing black cape. He speaks with a sophisticated, erudite vocabulary, and elegantly wields an array of blades as if he is a member of the X-Men. The beautiful daughter of anti-government radicals Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman) becomes V’s only ally. Meanwhile, the government official Finch (Stephen Rea) tries to figure out what is really going on.
This solidly crafted motion picture turns out quite entertaining. It is a political and symbolic thinking person’s thriller film. It is a lot dark. Orwellian dark. Comic book dark. Batman dark. When legendary comic book writer Alan Moore came up with the gloomy graphic novel “V for Vendetta” back in 1982, it is said to be a veiled cry against Margaret Thatcher’s regime. In this cinematic version, the writers, the Wachowski brothers Andy and Larry, kept the English setting, came up with an unlikely government controlled by a self-righteous, ranting “Big Brother-like” lunatic, and moved the timeline to the near future. What turns out is a film that features a social rebellion against an oppressive government and the people calling for freedom and justice. The Wachowskis undeniably like big ideas and lofty philosophizing in their films.
“V or Vendetta” tries to capture the viewers to consider its points and ideas the “Matrix” way. It is their own interpretation of the renowned graphic novel making its own political mark as V demands for the people to take personal responsibility in the society. Examining the ideas the story raises, it points out that everybody has a part in making the needed change.
First-time director James McTeigue (an assistant in all three “Matrix” films of the Wachowskis), renders big, bold imagery with slashing reds and blacks wedged into a number of exhilarating action sequences. The haunting cinematography is in close approximation to the novel’s look and feel. Full of Shakespearean romantic monologues amidst dancing knives that dramatically squirt blood from the slitting of necks and chopping of hands, the story promotes significant ideas over action, character over special effects, and emotion over action. It keeps a brutally and radically gorgeous visual and thematic illustration of its subject matter. It is powerfully moving, disturbing, and gripping.
V’s role is the typical detective in a mainstream thriller who later on sees the two sides and gets caught in between. Considerably, the characters and elements presented in this film are ordinarily seen in countless movies already. But the careful interweaving of all the cinematic essentials and ideals of the story makes up for the human side of the film and deems it worthwhile for the mind and heart at work. The pacing creates a time for a pause, an idea,or a song. The visuals carefully blend with the satire of pyrotechnics, bombings, and action and suspense scenes.
The major characters really give effective performances. V could have easily morphed into a soulless character, but Weaving’s clever phrasing and movements keep him touchingly human. The spoof scene of Adam Sutler is simple but hilarious nonetheless. Overall, Portman’s sensitivity gives heart to the dark tale, despite some obvious lapses on her fake English accent. Stephen Rea‘s consistency to his character is worth noting.
The ending, though it looks sentimental and cinematic, looks a way too tidy. Some of the lesser roles have a bit too shallow characterizations.
The film works brilliantly and angrily. Vigilant as it is, it is a potent combination of action, emotion, and wry that is bound to stir controversy and debate. After watching the film, it can raise up debates in classroom lectures, drinking sessions, office talks, and friendly chit-chats. Being an action-packed political commentary that appeals to the revolutionary in each of us, it depicts complacent notions about an uncannily fascinating parable of tyranny, terrorism, and violence.
A masked avenger under a totalitarian British regime knocks on our doors so we can do our part in facing our own “wars.” Come to think of it, one man’s terrorist is another one’s hero.
Amidst the cold and unsympathetic people running the government, there could be something, whether big or small, that we should think of and consider doing when the right time comes.