Movie Review
V for Vendetta
V for Vendetta poster
By Scott Sycamore     Published March 19, 2006
US Release: March 17, 2006

Directed by: James McTeigue
Starring: Natalie Portman , Hugo Weaving , Stephen Rea , John Hurt

Running Time: 132 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $70,503,491
"Thinking people" with a taste for fantasy and Proto-culture will find plenty morsels to snack on from this buffet.
Blazing like a firework from the bowels of jolly ol' England, we have a true cinematic Vendetta. Mining the subconscious fears of a whole population, this story takes the familiar revenge elements to a hyper (-stylized) level. What it presents is a filmic outpouring of all the emotions and repressed desires one accumulates when they constantly absorb information - from news media and other sources - about the horrid, broken state of the world and its politics. Dark fantasy this is indeed.

The film has myriad flaws of course, but they are not egregious enough to capsize a full sense of enjoyment. The main thing that papers over the weaknesses is the superior command of tone. We feel all kinds of vibes hitting us throughout; many contradictory, some humorous, some even dull. There's a palpably unsettling atmosphere, even with all the cheeky comic-book elements that are necessarily in there. I think the film truly captures an environment of dread, paranoia, uncertainty, and absurdity. There's some fun to be had even as dark forces squeeze the life out of the Land.

One of the best examples of the flick's ambiguous thematic goodness is the usage of the iconic Guy Fawkes mask on the face of V himself. It has that rascally cheerful face which is always stuck in place and yet still manages to change moods. It is humorous and playful one minute, extremely menacing the next. And always, there is that supreme air of defiance, reminding us that we have to "face" the world in all its terror if we are truly to let our souls rip free. This unchanging-yet-shifting symbol/prop shows that it's all about context; the melody of music reveals more meaning than words ever could. One specific thing (idea, person, logo) can be made to have multiple, even contradictory, meanings over time. So what's the true, original form? My point exactly.

I think that one of the messages of the film (among many) is that different people can view the exact same thing in wildly diverse ways. Even so, certain notions and instinctual drives (such as the yearning for freedom) bond people together despite surface dissimilarity. This is allegorically well-illustrated by a memorable scene at the end when thousands of people speak with a silent voice that surely reverberates across the entire nation, and beyond (that is, if anyone knows about it beyond the range of the state-controlled media outlets). This scene impacted me quite a bit when I thought about the enormous number of anti-war protesters that emerged in London in 2003 (and across the rest of the world too). They came out to simply say that they were not behind a brutal invasion of Iraq, and massed in the streets to drive their point home as much as possible. It didn't work in terms of stopping anything violent, but it showed (and continues to) like-minded people from all corners of the globe that they are hardly alone in their disgust over stone-hearted policies. A movie with emotionally-effective parallels to real life will always get respect from yours truly.

Have I mentioned the plot? No. Other reviewers will take care of that for me, and you really should just go check the film out for yourself anyways. "Thinking people" with a taste for fantasy and Proto-culture will find plenty morsels to snack on from this buffet. It's a nutritious meal that still has all the chemical preservatives you crave. Chow down for England.
Scott's Grade: B
Scott's Overall Grading: 417 graded movies
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'V for Vendetta' Articles
  • Weekend Analysis (3/17 - 3/19)
    March 19, 2006    V for Vendetta posted a stronger weekend tally than expected thanks to St. Patrick?s Day having kept some moviegoers out of theaters on Friday. -- Lee Tistaert
  • Friday Box Office Analysis (3/17)
    March 18, 2006    It?s looking like a roughly $23 million weekend for the DC Comics release ? on par with Hellboy. -- Lee Tistaert
  • Craig's review C
    March 16, 2006    The best that can be said is that it inspires thought, but even then it does so in a sort of silly and complicated way that says the best way to bring down a dictator is to sign up with your local Al-Qaeda representative. -- Craig Younkin