Well, I’m back on the films and to be honest, I couldn’t be happier. I might not do any more of those ‘Top 20’ lists… They take WAY too long. Anywho, let’s start things back off with a bang… Pun intended…
V for Vendetta is one of those films I was always a bit dubious about watching. Sure it looked good, but it didn’t really appeal to me as a person. Recently, an esteemed colleague of mine showed me a few clips on YouTube and I just had to watch the whole film. Here’s what happened.
In the 2030’s, the UK has been plunged into a totalitarian system, in which the government rules with an iron fist, frequently abducting and killing those who oppose. Propaganda is the tool of every trade and by now, everyone seems to have given up. Then, Evey (Natalie Portman) decides to turn up, nearly get… abused… by the aptly named ‘Fingermen’ (one of which has a finger cut off) before being saved by V (Hugo Weaving), the knife-throwing nutter who guises himself as Guy Fawkes (who cut off the finger). Evey and V head off towards a rooftop where they can watch the Old Bailey blow up, to the sound of the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky. The government covers this up as a demolition, before banning the 1812 from being played.
Soon afterwards, V hijacks the airwaves, using it to spread the message that the Houses of Parliament will be blown up in precisely one year (on the 5th of November) and that the public should be there to witness the event. The police turn up to arrest V, but he has placed hostages in costumes just like his, so that his escape is a likely occurence. Evey, who works at the TV station, is being hunted by the police, so she decides to help V escape, but is knocked out in the process. He ponders whether he should save her or not, before carrying her unconscious body to his secret lair.
The government releases images of a shot and dying ‘V’ on the news, which was in reality the first hostage, having been mistaken for the real V. Evey awakens in V’s lair and upon discovering that V plans to kill government officials, she runs to the home of a friend and colleague of hers, Gordon (Steven Fry). His home gets raided after a VERY inappropriate show which showed V humiliating the leader of the government, Adam Sutler (John Hurt). Gordon is later killed, but Evey was held in order to give information about V, which she refuses. Whilst imprisoned, she reads messages from a woman named Valerie, who was an actress arrested for being a lesbian. This gives Evey strength and she finally accepts that she shall walk calmly towards death. It is then revealed that she was actually in V’s lair, where he was trying to make her stronger. She finds out that the letters were real and handed to V when he himself was imprisoned. She leaves, promising to return before the 5th of November.
The head of police, Mr Finch (Steven Rea) learns of how the current government seized power by use of a biological weapon targeted at a school, a water treatment plant and a tube station, shortly after the USA was also attacked by the same weapon. Adam Sutler was quick to find a cure and as the leader of a political party, they quickly seized power. They performed experiments on prisoners, including V, at a secret facility. It is revealed that V is taking his revenge for what happened there.
As the 5th of November looms, a string of schemes cause the government to despise V even more, before he distributes thousands of outfits, just like his, to the public. The public use these and as a result, some get killed. This causes some to rise up. In one particular case, a girl is seen spraying V’s signature (a V overlapping a circle) on a wall, before she is seen, runs and gets shot by a Fingerman. Her neighbours attack her killer, presumably killing him. On the 4th of November, Evey returns to V, who shows her a train filled with explosives, set to detonate under the Houses of Parliament. He tells her that she must decide whether to set the train off at midnight, whilst he himself has a quick job to do.
He arrives at a tube station where, whilst a recorded message by Sutler is being played on TV (with no-one watching it) Sutler and his security chief are waiting. The security chief, Creedy (Tim Pigott-Smith) then kills Sutler, before turning his security team against V. They shoot, following a few very iconic and memorable lines…
‘The only thing that you and I have in common, Mr. Creedy, is we’re both about to die.’
‘ How do you imagine that’s gonna happen?’
‘With my hands around your neck.’
‘Bollocks. Whatchya gonna do, huh? We’ve swept this place. You’ve got nothing. Nothing but your bloody knives and your fancy karate gimmicks. We have guns.’
‘No, what you have are bullets, and the hope that when your guns are empty I’m no longer be standing, because if I am you’ll all be dead before you’ve reloaded.’
The men open fire, before all being killed by V, who survived the bullets fired. He then walks at Creedy before holding him against a gate and snapping his neck. (Again, after a memorable line)
‘Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.’
V staggers away in pain, towards Evey, who he declares his love for, before dying. The public march towards parliament, the army watching them, ready to open fire, before the latter lower their arms, having no specific orders from higher-up in the chain of command. Finch arrives and tries to stop Evey, before she convinces him that the train needs to be sent. He agrees and together, along with thousands of members of the public and military personnel, they watch the Houses of Parliament blow up. Finch asks who V was, to which Evey replies, all of us. The last shot is of fireworks above the Houses of Parliament, forming a V shape.
Well, what can I say about this? As a film, it’s BRILLIANT! I mean, bloody hell! A guy, pretending to be Guy, who almost single-handedly annihilates an entire government, culminating in the destruction of Parliament. The plot is unique, with their being no visible holes. I don’t recall there being a single moment when I wasn’t believing what I saw. It’s a very in-depth plot!
As for the cast? Well, it’s an all-star cast in some ways. I’d heard of everyone before watching this and they all act brilliantly. The role of Hugo Weaving as V was surprising. I’d only ever seen him as Elrond and Agent Smith, so when it’s just his voice, his distinctive voice, the whole effect is carried nicely. Natalie Portman is almost always an instant winner for me. Yes. I’m a perv. We know. She CAN act though. Steven Fry? I like Steven. He plays the role of a Koran reading, homosexual TV Star… Nothing quite like being type-cast, eh? I suspect he probably DOES read the Koran sometimes. Heck. I’d have read it if I had a copy… Some of it…
John Hurt, as the Hitler-esque Sutler, was a surprise. I knew he was a good actor, but this blew me away. The fear on his face before the headshot he receives completely blew me away. Steven Rea played Mr Finch quite well, even if the character himself doesn’t really have that much depth. You just sort of know what he’s going to do at the end, even before he shows any signs of doing it. It’s all building up to him letting Evey set that train on its way.
So here’s the tough topic. Special effects. Well, the slow-motion fighting scene where I quoted the film was pretty good. The whole woosh – woosh – woosh – AAAARRRRGH! worked brilliantly. Blowing up the Old Bailey? Stunning. The statue’s head exploded and then the rest of the building followed suit. Took my breath away. Finally we reach the blowing up of the Houses of Parliament. How can I phrase this without you thinking I’m a terrorist or a sympathiser of? IT WAS SPECTACULAR! I wouldn’t normally say this, but I think that looked cool. I mean, seriously. It blows up! Even Big Ben gets a slice of the action! Combining the video with the 1812 Overture was a stroke of genius and if I’m honest, I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t come up with it.
I wouldn’t normally single out characters, but I really liked V. Sure, he’s a terrorist, but bloody hell. He acts as calmly as he possibly can in any circumstance and then he just carries on what he’s doing as if nothing has happened! He’s like the Black Knight… ‘This bullet in my arm? ‘Tis but a scratch!’… He’s voiced well, vocalised well and most importantly, he’s believable. V is just a typical revolutionary who was let down by his government, so he turns rampant on the world. I like him, you probably like him and I’ll be shocked if the ladies don’t like him!
I do have ONE small annoyance with the film. When Evey is trapped in V’s lair, thinking she is about to die, we hear a few guards talk to her. The first one… the VERY first one, sounds too much like V in my opinion.
I highly recommend that you watch this film. You might not like the idea of terrorism being enjoyable to watch, but in this case, it works well. The characters are great and the soundtrack really helps to set the mood. It just works. As in, it doesn’t do anything else. IT WORKS! I like it, you’ll like it and I’ll be damn surprised if when 2030 comes along, we don’t have people re-enacting the film against our own dystopian style government. I hope it never comes to that, but you never know…
Just watch the film!