Movie Review | V for Vendetta
Movie summary: In a future British tyranny, a shadowy freedom fighter, known only by the alias of "V", plots to overthrow it with the help of a young woman. (IMDb)
I think most people these days are probably aware of the Guy Fawkes mask worn by V (Hugo Weaving) as a symbol of the internet group Anonymous, so it does feel a little weird that this 15-year old movie actually feels more relevant now than the group who took their image from it - although I'm not too sure that's a good thing in all honesty.
Why? Because the world of V for Vendetta seems shockingly accurate to the right-wing bent the English-speaking western world has taken, with plague and a second civil war engulfing the USA; while an incompetent, authoritarian British government spread fear and hate of immigrants, Muslims and homosexuals while keeping people off the streets at nights with curfews.
I'd always enjoyed this movie whenever I'd seen it before, but it had been a while and I'd forgotten just how much of a dystopia the world of the movie was, and had no idea just how much reality had started to reflect it. This reflection of reality (or reality reflecting this fiction if you prefer) gives events a certain edge that felt maybe a little out of place before.
It also means that it's far easier to relate to the 'heroes' of the piece: V and Evey (Natalie Portman). To be fair, it was always fairly easy to relate to the latter, with what the government did to her family and what she'd been repressing all her life - all of which comes flooding out in possibly my favourite scene of the movie and one of what I'd consider to be the greatest scenes Portman has ever done in her career.
But then there's V. He's unquestionably a terrorist, blowing up buildings and killing plenty, including civilian security guards while also carrying out acts of kidnapping, torture and other abuse to make his point. All of this still means he's never going to be considered a hero like Captain America or Superman, but seeing similar kinds of evil to the Norsefire government of V for Vendetta manifesting in reality certainly makes it easier to accept what he does.
In fact, I'd go so far as to say that if V for Vendetta were released today, there'd be one holy hell of a shitstorm whipped up by the governments of both the UK and the US using the media to try and paint this movie as being 'Antifa' (and yes, it most certainly is anti-fascism - you know, a good thing) and cinemas - if they were open - would be pressured to not show it.
As someone who consider themselves liberal and very left-leaning, V for Vendetta is hugely cathartic to watch these days, even if the villains are still a little more cartoonishly evil than those in real life and the accents of V and Evey - played by an Australian and an American - don't quite the mark on more than once occasion.
It is a little ludicrous that reality getting so bad can raise the quality of a movie, but that is what's happened. There's so much done in this movie that I would've dismissed as too far for anyone in government to even think about getting away with the last time I watch this film - but those are criticisms that don't hold up when you have the UK government voting to make children starve over winter while awarding themselves a pay rise.
Trying to steer things back to V for Vendetta, it's hard to do so because there's a similar issue when you get to the performances with nasty pieces of work that you couldn't imagine getting away with acting like they do here being commonplace now and coming across as very convincing characters that reflect true-to-life evil.
Criticism of accents aside, there's very little I can find wrong with V for Vendetta now. There are a couple of moments that feel like they were just squeaked in as the budget began to run out, but there are some incredible visuals that more than make up for some of the cheaper-looking scenes.
If anything, V now stands out alone as the most unrealistic part of the movie. He's borderline superhuman thanks to experiments carried out on 'undesirables' by the UK government and it definitely feels more like a superhero movie than before thanks to the public and proud evil having become a reality and the hero to defeat it having not made that same transition. At least, not yet.
V for Vendetta is a great film that feels disturbingly prescient with the world it presents now just a couple of steps away from becoming reality. If anything, it raises the level of the movie a notch by making it all seem that little bit more serious than it otherwise would, especially some dodgy accent work and occasional low-budget feel.