A movie by the Wachowski brothers inevitably brings about visions of extremely modern gadgetry and hi-tech computers, with monitors displaying stuff that may as well have been Latin (and perhaps it actually is). Far from it being so, V For Vendetta ends up giving you more of a reality check that you would probably expect from a commercial movie.
Set in the year 2020, the film shows a world that is nothing like what we know of today. But it does mention that the US is extinct, which in itself for several is good enough reason to keep watching the movie.
Getting back on track, the first ten minutes set the tone for the entire movie: the US’ war on terrorism has finally led to its downfall, and all relations between the US and England have broken down. England, in its eagerness to restore the peace, has its government restructured, with Adam Sutler (John Hurt) elected as the High Chancellor.
Now don’t be mistaken - Sutler is no Tony Blair. The casting is perfect, and was done with only one thing in mind: how do we portray a totalitarian, almost fascistic figure, without actually stating the name Hitler? The answer is simple: We get someone who looks just like him. And mind you, there’s absolutely no mistaking the similarities.
Sutler is soon to resign, when there’s a mysterious biological attack in an elementary school in London. By popular demand, Sutler is reinstated indefinitely, and thus begins his reign of terror. Muslims are blamed for the attack, and all non-Christian religions are banned. As a direct result of this, all those deemed “different” are also made victims to this rule, and are secretly abducted and executed.
In the midst of all this, however, there are two survivors. Umm... make that one significant survivor and the other just an audience puller. A man known only as “V”, runs into Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman) by chance, saves her from being assaulted, and includes her in his devious plans to blow up the Old Bailey.
She returns the favor the next day, and ends up in his secret hideout. And that about ends her role, even though she’s there in every other frame henceforth. Other than being V’s secretkeeper, there’s no other dimension to Portman's role. She’s a victim at every single stage, and even that could have been portrayed better.
V is the glue that binds all the bits and pieces of the movie together. The very fact that his true identity isn’t revealed throughout the movie is its USP. He is known only by the Guy Fawkes mask that he wears during his trysts with the government.
He hijacks a room in the fictional BTN (England’s futuristic version of the BBC), and broadcasts through the emergency transmission channel to every single house in England, that he will destroy Parliament on November 5, one year from then, to instigate the overthrow of the government. He leaves the citizens of England with a Guy Fawkes quote: "Remember, remember, the fifth of November. The gunpowder treason and plot. For, I see no reason why the gunpowder treason, Should ever be forgot."
Incidentally, Guy Fawkes attempted to destroy Parliament on November 5, 1605 in what's known as "The Gunpowder Treason".
The entire movie has a dark undertone - there are hardly any happy scenes or smiles, or for that matter even daylight. And Natalie Portman gives a new meaning to the word emaciated. Cadavers have more life running through their veins than she does. Sure, her gaunt look is supposed to be an indication of all the adversity she’s been exposed to, but frankly, there’s hardly any difference between her “before” and “after” torture looks.
While V’s primary occupation is his frenzied revenge bulimia, there are many other twists and turns to the story that must be watched in order to be completely appreciated. Right from discourses on frying an egg to secret alliances and hidden political agendas being unravelled, the film traverses a spectrum that warrants a pat on the backs of the Wachowski brothers for pulling off something rational for a change.
While you could visualize V For Vendetta as a modern day (make that very
modern day) Rang De Basanti
, care has been taken to not portray the world as being conceptually weird, like in the Wachowski’s pet project, The Matrix trilogies. This spellbinding adventure is a prelude to some really hot debates, and is sure to stir the current politically comatose generation into taking a look at what is really happening around them.
V for Vendetta proves one thing: you don’t need computers to make a successful sci-fi movie. And you don’t have to be the guy in A Beautiful Mind
to capture the undercurrents of the movie. But be prepared to be intensely intellectually stimulated by the end of it.