REVIEW: ‘V for Vendetta’ remains a timeless ode to the past, present & future

There’s no doubt the world has faced quite the spectacles in regards to a devastating pandemic and forms of corrupted power. Solving such deep-rooted issues is never as simple as the media lets on, and there’s this imbalance of caring for one’s self versus those one is surrounded by that really complicates society’s priorities. V for Vendetta ambitiously explores these burdensome themes, enlightening its own path of interpretation.

Directed by James McTeigue, V for Vendetta creatively takes place in the future — a 2027 British tyranny following its second civil war and a pandemic. Citizens are on edge, an accumulation of fear for not only contracting “St. Mary’s Virus” but for Britain’s neofascist police force and Chancellor (John Hurt). Despite the terrors the government enforces on its people, a lone vigilante going by the name of V (Hugo Weaving) sets out to take down the perilous government and return Britain to its safer, former glory. Early on, he meets Evey (Natalie Portman), an employee at the British Television Network, who he saves from the secret police and becomes an ally against the oppressors. 

V for Vendetta, while containing a multitude of themes, ultimately illustrates one’s journey to freedom — from one’s own self and society. In a world already facing an alarming pandemic and dealing with the effects of a too powerful police force, moviegoers will find it very easy to relate to not only the physical struggles within this film but also the more personal trials of mankind. 

It’s an explosive journey, in more ways than one. 

V (Hugo Weaving) and Evey (Natalie Portman) engrossed in a waltz of understanding each other — a deepening battle of minds and wits. Promotional artwork courtesy of Warner Brothers.

James McTeigue’s use of lighting is brilliant, accurately portraying the inner aspects of the characters on the screen. For V, he is often surrounded in a cloak of darker lighting. It shines dutifully on the mask he wears, yet leaves everything else shaded. This technique illustrates the anonymity of this guarded character, leaving viewers curious of just who this dark knight truly is. This lighting further develops in scenes crucial to the relationship between Evey and V. While together, the lighting appears softer, delicately lightening on V’s own masked features to match more to Evey’s own radiant personality. With Evey, V is different — a force that complements the other despite their physical differences. 

That remarkable duality between Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman is nothing short of astonishing. Portman’s strong and resilient character Evey molds together perfectly with Weaving’s willfully defiant character V. Most often, it’s a battle of wits between the two, a clashing of ideas for the greater good and it’s intriguing to watch their dynamic flow effortlessly. There’s a sense of understanding between their characters and that while their differences can be difficult for the other, they display realistic dynamics. 

Not to mention that their portrayal of their own characters individually leaves viewers astonished. 

Hugo Weaving wears the same smiling Guy Fawkes mask, limiting the ability to portray the depth of facial expressions. This allows for Weaving to really hone in on body language and tone. The mask does not limit his ability to act in the slightest, and while challenging to get used to, Weaving genuinely succeeds at reminding the audience that “underneath this mask is more than flesh” in his depiction of V. 

Natalie Portman’s representation of Evey is arguably one her finest works in the film industry. From illustrating a young woman with a strong heart and mind full of goals to a beautiful journey of self exploration and definement, Portman’s acting is nothing shy of spectacular. 

Fans of the graphic novel written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd may be disappointed with how the film adaptation strays from the original storyline of the comic. Those frequent stark differences caused Alan Moore to make a bold decision and not be associated with the adaptation. While he admits the film is one of the best translations of his works, he remains dissatisfied. However, if you are willing to push past any variations, V for Vendetta certainly won’t disappoint. 

There’s so much that can be taken away from a film as vulnerable as this one. V for Vendetta is thought-provoking. It encourages you to think of yourself and the world around you and how one impacts the other. It’s about the power of self exploration, self identity. It’s about the power of union, the strength of a united front. It’s about the power of freedom, freedom of choice.

V for Vendetta invites viewers to unravel the characters and the plot, applying its themes and morals where one chooses. You’ll be enraptured at just how quickly a lonesome vigilante with unique perceptions of life can leave an imprint in your mind. 

It’s delighting, thrilling, and frightening all at once. 

“Everybody has their story to tell.”

V for Vendetta is rated R. 

Kaitlyn Riley is a pop culture critic for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl

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