V FOR VENDETTA
V for Vendetta is fantastic; a compelling, thought-provoking, mysterious ride anchored by an incredible Natalie Portman. It really is a shame that this movie was released so soon after the Academy Awards because Portman deserves a Best Actress nomination for her performance, and by next year her portrayal may be overshadowed in the wake of other strong actresses and films. Portman’s character, Evey, is complex and conflicted, heartbreaking and entirely watchable. The film would not have resonated as much had Scarlett Johansson or Bryce Dallas Howard, who were also under consideration for the role, taken the lead.
Hugo Weaving is a gifted actor; he is able to convincingly make V, the man behind the mask, alternatively sympathetic and evil using only his voice and body language – without so much as a glimpse of his face. British actor James Purefoy was originally cast as V but left shortly after filming began for unknown reasons, clearing the way for Weaving (a favorite of the Wachowski Brothers, who wrote and produced V). In addition to voicing Rex the male sheepdog in the two Babe films, Weaving appeared in fabulous fashion in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert in 1994. He then gained a cult fan following as Agent Smith in all three Matrix movies, followed by yet another successful trilogy, The Lord of the Rings.
The film is as aesthetically pleasing as you would expect from a Wachowski Brothers production. And although the brothers did not direct this time around, it is quite clear that they had their hands in every aspect of the movie. In fact, director James McTeigue was one of their assistant directors from the Matrix trilogies.
Although set in the future, V’s political undercurrent is surprisingly prevalent and somewhat realistic. The pace is appropriately intense, and there are a few unexpected twists and turns. Aside from one scene with slow motion violence bordering on gratuitous, I loved V for Vendetta and recommend it to anyone who can appreciate both great acting and a story that intermingles sci-fi with history.