“Remember, remember the fifth of November” is how this masterpiece of a film begins, referring to Guy Fawkes, a Catholic conspirator who attempted to blow up the British Parliament in 1605. The film follows the character wearing a Guy Fawkes-inspired mask named “V” as he attempts to rescue Great Britain from the corrupt regime that has taken hold of the country in the year 2020. Packed with high-energy action sequences, superb acting and writing and thought-provoking themes, “V for Vendetta” proves to be one of the most visually stunning blockbusters seen in quite some time. Written by “Matrix”-acclaimed Wachowski brothers and directed by first-time director John McTeigue, the film is based on the 1989 graphic novel illustrated by David Lloyd.The setting is London where a totalitarian government rules with an oppressive iron fist, national curfews are in place and citizens are fed corrupt propaganda through the only media outlet, the The British Television Network (BTN). Evey Hammond, played by Natalie Portman, is a well-mannered worker of the BTN who finds herself out past the enforced curfew time. Confronted by government officials who wish to arrest and possibly rape her, she is saved by a masked hero known only as “V.” To repay V, Evey accompanies her hero to the roof of a building where she witnesses the first attempt of V’s vindication, the blowing up of the historical Old Bailey. V explains to Evey that in one year from that night, on November 5, 2020, complete restoration of freedom will be brought to the people of Great Britain.
Hugo Weaving, known for playing Agent Smith in the “Matrix” films, plays the masked terrorist/hero “V.” Quoting Shakespeare with grace and eloquence, Weaving brings a sense of wit to the otherwise frightening persona that is V. As the film progresses, viewers begin to understand the man that is behind the mask: a person that not only wishes to bring an end to an oppressive government, but also an end to a painful past filled with abuse and torture from government-run testing facilities
Although set in another country in the future, it is no doubt that McTeigue used the film to provide social commentary on the current state of democracy in America. Chancellor Sutler (John Hurt) tortures homosexuals and denies the practice of the Islam religion in exchange for what he promises a “safer” country for his citizens. In an extreme sense, Sutler is intended to parallel Bush and the current efforts of his administration. Lewis Prothero (Roger Allam), the so-called “Voice of London” and part of the Chancellor’s board of trustees, feeds the public the “news” in emotionally-charged newscasts similar to that of Bill O’Reilly.
The themes – whether you choose to agree or disagree with them – are thought-provoking and captivating, which is more than what most films today are offering. The writing, acting, and directing are all around wonderful and “V for Vendetta” is the first must-see movie of 2006.