V for Vendetta was directed by James McTeigue, written by Wachowski, and came out in the year 2006. The film stars Natalie Portman as Evie and Hugo Weaving as V- the protagonist labeled a terrorist by a totalitarian government that has taken control over England in a very vicious way. They have outlawed art; a harsh curfew is imposed upon everyone and police officers that are in control are not abiding by the law themselves, committing heinous crimes.
This movie is based on Alan Moore’s graphic novel which, if you have not read, is filled with a ton of great characters, and has a really great storytelling element to it. One may think of it as just an action-packed extravaganza, and yes, there are great action sequences in V for Vendetta, but it is also a movie that talks about politics and how a government can control its people, and how people can rise up against its government in vengeance when the environment becomes unbearable. It subtly presents a lot of ideas along with fantastic action. The movie has great storytelling, and its performances are stellar.
The movie is set in a “futuristic” fictional world. The year is 2020 and a virus has spread globally (pretty much true of what happened last year). Many Americans lose their life. Britain is ruled by fascist leaders, and they have imposed a curfew on everything. During these times rises a man in a mask named V. He thinks that killing significant dignitaries and bombing important sites will wake up the people against the corrupted government. He tries to commemorate Guy Fawkes who blew up British Parliament in 1605 and hopes to do the same on November the 5th.
V saves a reporter girl (Evie) from rapist policemen on eve of the 5th of November. She forms an alliance with him later in the movie and helps him in his cause. V bombs an old building and later announces on national TV that within 12 months’ time he will blow up the parliament. People who are against the corrupt government should show their support. Either he is a terrorist or a freedom fighter – that is for the audience to judge, I won’t give away much.
This movie came out only five years after the devastating attack of 9/11. This film has a main character labeled as a terrorist and portrays him in a sympathetic light, so we understand his motivations and what he wants to do, and why he’s doing it. It was very brave to release such a movie in that tense environment when labeling anyone a terrorist was easy.
Now granted the world surrounding V in this movie is a futuristic depiction of a fictionalized world in which everything has gone disarray. And there is this one government that is acting like everything is fine. So, in that way you can watch and understand why someone would revolt against it, but also must reiterate that this is a fictional film. Many critics at that time said that this is a disturbing movie and sympathizes with terrorism, which is not much true as it is a fictional world, and it should not be compared to real-life situations.
V for Vendetta has the most phenomenal performances by Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman. The script for V is great and poetic, filled with quotes such as, “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.” And the most famous “Remember, remember, the fifth of November, gunpowder treason and plot. I see no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.”
All in all, the movie is a classic. It is riveting and exciting to watch. It checks all the boxes being gripping, chilling, intense, exciting, heartbreaking all at once. It is not a big typical action movie, but it has some striking action sequences. The most surprising thing is that even after 15 years, this movie is still relatable regarding what is happening in the world right now. Watching this today is eerily identical to current events.
Perhaps this was a warning?
Syeda Laiba Tayyab, striving to learn anything new, is a student of Biochemistry at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. Book lover and a big movie enthusiast are some traits that define her.