Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Movie review: "V for Vendetta"

Few weeks ago I decided to watch some of the "older" movies (up to ten years old) that I missed. There are lots of them, so I am currently using IMDB USA box-office archive. This week I watched "V for Vendetta". I didn't know much about the movie prior to watching it. I know it was an adaptation of comic and that main character wears some crazy mask (I checked Wikipedia, they say it is Guy Fawkes' mask; I presume that scene at the beginning of the movie depicts Fawkes' dramatized "execution"). I believed this movie would be about French revolution or something like that.

But, it turns out this is actually contemporary, alternate-history SF-ish movie. It lasts two hours and it really has a lot of plot in it. First part of the movie is confusing and intriguing at the same time. It takes some time to start rolling. We first meet Evey, while she wanders through some streets after curfew. She almost gets raped by some under-cover policemen, but in the last moment she gets saved by a guy in black, wearing (my first association) a musketeer's mask and wielding swords and knives. Man introduces himself as "V" and in flourishing language invites her to watch a musical performance with her. It turns out that this "performance" is actually bombing of British parliament. This starts V's terrorist activity against fascist and repressing British government.

There are three things that are great in this movie. First, the world-building. It is near future England and it is very dystopian. After some nuclear war that USA was involved with, England isolated itself from rest of the world, lead by charismatic and autocratic leader Adam Sutler. Regime is very racist and homophobic; government strictly controls media (especially television, where Evey works) and secret police is almost almighty. Worst thing about it is that people have grown with this situation and they consider it normal. That is the ultimate goal of V's anarchism: changing people conscience about them.

Second is the plot. For a comic-book adaptation, plot is marvelous and quite believable. V almost doesn't have any special powers nor is he some genius. Plot is very surprising, shown from multiple POVs and it is never boring. There are many funny scenes, especially at the beginning. But the movie overall is very somber. I especially liked the ending; it was very emotional and epic, on more than one level.

Third, the characters. Three main characters are V, Evey and Finch, the police inspector on V's case. During the movie, we know almost nothing about V. We find out a bit about his history, but we never really get to know him, his motivations and such. But we instinctively know he is the good guy. A bit twisted guy, especially shown in his relationship with Evey, but good guy nevertheless. Definitely very interesting character; especially the fact that he never, ever shows his face! Evey has some very traumatic experiences and she does a lot of growing up. In some aspects, she is the actual protagonist of the story. Inspector Finch is also a good guy, albeit on the bad side. We follow him as he realizes that, while unsuccessfully trying to stop V. Rest of the cast is also done very well.

Interestingly, I think this is the rare case where the adopted material is better than the original. I cannot be sure, of course, because I haven't read the original comic-book, but I've read a synopsis of it and it looks much more flamboyant than the movie.

Just to mention, movie has almost none special effects; it counts more on the inner quality then the visuals (even though the production is not bad in any aspect). And I mean this as a compliment.

"V for Vendetta" is a great movie. A combination of SF, thriller and drama, it asks for concentrated audience. But my opinion is that the movie is worth of it. Definitely a recommendation!

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