Scathing political views, a guy in a mask, a few pieces of pyrotechnic work, a bald Natalie Portman, and one evil government later, V for Vendetta comes to a close. You'll either leave enlightened by someone else's views or wonder why you wasted the time. This graphic-novel based yawner falls flat since it's not an original concept and the main character is lifeless.
It's hard to act behind a mask and Hugo Weaving does what he can behind the smiling face of V. This masked madman has had enough of an oppressive government, and decides to dismantle it one person at a time. The focus is certainly split between V and the government trying to stop him, neither bringing much to the film.
To say the film has a message is an understatement, one that boils down to a typical cliché-ridden "government = bad/people = free." It stuffs that message into the viewer as often as possible, also dabbling in corruption and a manipulative media. It's been done countless times before, leaving V himself as the only original concept in the film.
Weaving, also known for playing a few thousand characters in the Matrix series as Agent Smith, plays an enthusiastic V. Dialogue is sharp, meaningful, and entertaining. His early speech, using almost nothing but words that start with the letter V, is priceless, and leads into the character's sometimes on, sometimes off sanity.
Sadly, it doesn't amount to much as a predictable ending finishes things off in a blaze. A few fight scenes offer some nice style, gore, and choreography, though that's one of the minor highlights. Natalie Portman plays a regular citizen slowly and violently brought over to V's side with only a little flair.
If tyrannical governments are a fixture of your movie watching, you can view numerous other Hollywood efforts like the upcoming Logan's Run remake, Soylent Green, or, of course, Nineteen Eighty Four. V for Vendetta adds little to the genre aside from a slight super hero angle and extensive preaching. Fiction movies are about entertainment, not constant political bashing.
Surprisingly, this is an awful DVD transfer. Film grain is worse here than it is in some movies 30 years old. Flat colored backdrops compound this issue with compression artifacts. There is some decent focus on details, flesh tones come together nicely, and black levels are perfect. The grain, however, mutes any positives.
Thankfully, the audio picks things up. With two major sequences involving heavy explosions, the full effect of 5.1 audio comes through. Small pieces of destroyed structures find their way into every channel and bass provides a powerful kick. Fight scenes showcase subtle audio, and dialogue is mixed nicely as not to be overpowered.
A two-disc edition of the film is available, though the version reviewed is a single disc affair. The sole feature is "Freedom! Forever!" It's a 15-minute making-of piece that is surprisingly deep, discussing the novels, the proper way to bring them to the screen, adjustments, the politics, and the characters. Fans of extras should obviously veer past this disc and go straight for the double disc collection.
V's rant early in the film, when he first discovers Natalie Portman's character, contains 55 different uses of "V" words. It was intentional, given the film's other references to the number five. If you sit there and count them though, you should probably start looking for better ways to spend your time.