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V for Vendetta (2005)

January 7, 2010

8/10 Anarchist’s Cookbooks

Definitely one of the stronger Alan Moore adaptations out there.

V for Vendetta takes place in a future England ruled by an Orwellian and fascist government that controls its citizens with an unquestioning iron fist. The story follows Evey, a prostitute who is taken under the wing of the one man in the country who is hell bent on taking down this new U.K. and giving it back to the people one explosion at a time – a Guy Fawkes fan with a knife fetish named V.

When I first saw this in theaters, I didn’t really know what to think of it; I knew I liked some aspects and didn’t like others, but I don’t think I could have given it a fair score out of 10. Pretty sure those sentiments were a reflection of how the source material affected me and in turn I had to be a nit-picky bastard about the differences between the movie and the original story. So, here I am four years later giving it another shot and, whaddaya know, I can’t believe how good it is.

Looks like it’s time to dust off that graphic novel and give myself a refresher course.

Going into the second viewing, there were two things I distinctly remembered disliking about it the first time around: V’s annoying “V-word” intro speech at the beginning and how the cast delivered the Wachowski brothers’ lines like they were all plugged into The Matrix, like they were programmed to speak. Upon further reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that V’s speech is still annoying – but he redeems his cool factor rather quickly thereafter – and the reason it probably felt like I was in The Matrix was because every time V speaks I can’t help but hear Agent Smith instead. Dude’s got a distinctive voice, that’s all there is to it.

Natalie Portman’s still nothing special as Evie (the bald look…that didn’t help either) and it’s too bad all you get out of Hugo Weaving is his voice, but everything else was a lot better than I remembered it being – props to director James McTeigue as this was his debut effort (not too shabby).

And, as always, it helps to have a refreshingly original and well-executed premise to begin with. The story here kept me entertained and interested from square one, and it’s as pertinent today as it was back in the ’80s, as is the major theme of “People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people.” It isn’t often a movie resonates the same emotions I felt upon first discovering Rage Against the Machine way back when, but that’s the uncompromising political vibe I got, and that, dear readers, is a very good thing.

I can still think back to some of the more obvious liberties that were taken from the graphic novel, and while some of them don’t work out quite as well, for the most part they are welcome additions and changes that really bring everything full circle and make for a solid adaptation. It doesn’t follow the movie religiously and it ends up being it’s own little monster, but that’s alright since it pulls it off well.

If only I could say the same for Watchmen – the latest adaptation that Moore wisely distanced himself from like it was carrying swine flu. But I’m willing to give that one another shot, too.

Considering how skeptical I was when I hit “PLAY”, V for Vendetta delivered the goods and shut me up right quick. It not only work as a dystopian thriller and a badass action movie, this sucker makes you think and puts a nice big smile on the face of anarchy that you never knew was there. Nonetheless, follow my lead and read the graphic novel. These adaptations really don’t do Moore justice.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. January 7, 2010 6:44 am

    take about four marks off and youre about right. absolute drivel.
    Zeroes is way better than this

    • January 7, 2010 8:58 am

      Haha, might be changing my tune after I read the book again. And can we keep on comparing all these movies to Zeroes? I feel like I’m destined for greatness at the moment.

  2. January 7, 2010 10:33 am

    One thing I’ll always take from this film, is how it finishes with one of the most appropriate closing credit tracks ever…

    …I’ve always loved the way the film cuts to black with those opening two notes of The Stones’ STREET FIGHTING MAN.

    • January 7, 2010 10:51 am

      Totally agree. More movies need to end on that note, like Gone With the Wind.

  3. January 7, 2010 1:26 pm

    I really enjoyed this film first time around and seen it a few times since. The only real criticism I have is that the story sags a little in the middle. I haven’t read the graphic novel so am not sure how it compares, I will probably get around to it one day. As for Alan more adaptations, the only other one that really works for me is Watchmen.

    I always found it amusing that Euan (son of Prime Minister at the time Tony) Blair worked on a film about blowing up parliament.

    • January 7, 2010 1:29 pm

      Haha, didn’t know that. Sounds like someone’s got daddy issues. Highly recommend checking out the graphic novel though, definitely worth a read. Same goes for Watchmen if you haven’t already.

  4. Marc permalink
    January 7, 2010 4:03 pm

    Dude, I just watched this last night (scary that you post a review today) but it’s the first time in while that I’ve seen it. To me, it still holds up in my opinion (plus recently watching The Matrix trilogy I saw similarities in cinematography). I kind of imagine this as The Matrix rewritten with Hugo Weaving as The One:P

    One drawback is that I get taken out of the movie with Portman’s fake accent yet must admit it was her most bold and memorable role since ‘Mathilda’ in Leon (The Professional).

    • January 7, 2010 4:15 pm

      Oh my GOD, I can’t believe I forgot to mention Portman’s accent. That shit drove me CRAZY! Still a far cry from The Professional though. Good call, man. Might have to edit this sucker a tad now.

  5. March 16, 2010 10:17 am

    Another Moore adaptation I really like, more on that later, V For Vendetta worked for me because it’s the right mixture of a little bit of everything. It’s not great at anything really, but it adds in enough good ingredients to create quite the viewing experience.

    As for that other Moore adaptation, you do need to give Watchmen another go. It’s still in the running for my best of ’09, it switches places with a few different movies on an almost daily basis, and it not just a great adaptation, but it changes some aspects from the source and places the emphasis in other areas that make the material work in a different way. I don’t want to say better way because that would be wrong, both the GN and the film are great, but the change in focus, as well as other changes, created another great work in my mind.

  6. Just didnt like it permalink
    July 14, 2010 6:32 pm

    There were good elements and visuals but it was 30(85) mins too long and was really lacking cohesion and meaningful philosophy.

    I couldn’t help feeling it was a bit shit. A bit like Mr Moore’s attitude to it.

    Despite some decent acting and production.

    Fight the system by slashing peoples throats in artistic spurts of blood? Its all a bit right on, how about using a guilotine? All seems a bit beavis and butthead, juvenile and slightly retarded.

    How about using Thoreau and Rousseau for some inspiration. Peoples ability to do the right thing and think for themselves and yet work together to affect change.

    As dystopias go its a bit 1 dimensional. Hitlers Germany was a populist government as long as you were white and aryan. In North Korea the population is so brainwashed from birth that many of them worship their leader as a God (see the 7 stories from defectors).

    The fake torture scenes where just unconvincing, shaving her head did not do her any favours visually.

    The pointless death scene was another nail in the coffin.

    The story as realised in the film was weak.

  7. anitaj permalink
    June 9, 2011 8:45 am


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