I thought after attending the stinkfest Date Movie and the painful Ultraviolet in consecutive weeks I would finally enjoy a movie in V for Vendetta. How cruel the gods of entertainment truly are. If I were to watch this film again, I would sneak a sleeping pill about a half an hour beforehand, enjoy the first explosion in the opening scene, sleep through the middle then have someone wake me up for the final explosion. Explosion, nap, explosion; maybe then I wouldn’t have objected so much to having put forth money to see this film. That wasn’t a spoiler either, as we know from the trailers what the ending of the film shall be.
Natalie Portman plays Evey Hammond, a Londoner who works for the state sanctioned television network. It’s a London with obvious Orwellian rules regarding behavior, and Evey is caught after curfew by some non-uniformed enforcement officers who are preparing to rape her. V, played by Hugo Weaving, intervenes and incapacitates the men before they can harm Evey. He’s wearing the mask of Guy Fawkes, an anti-Protestant terrorist from the seventeenth century who tried to kill off the Protestant government of England by blowing up the Parliamentary building in London.
Soon enough, Evey Hammond is knee deep with V and is forced into hiding after helping V take over a television network. I guess there’s some plot in the movie, since we need to understand how we get from the beginning explosion to the ending explosion. Fascists are involved, evil pharmaceutical corporations are involved, as well as hypocritical priests, and I think they even kill off a Rush Limbaugh-type character in the mix. The message the film sends about the evils of conservatism (of which I personally am one) is heavy throughout the film. It’s an unfair caricature for sure.
The obvious political message of the movie could be forgiven if it were simply a better film. Natalie Portman’s performance is unbearable. It’s hard to believe you’re in London when the main protagonist can’t maintain a British accent. Portman feels almost lifeless in her role. I guess that can be understood when you realize the other protagonist is a guy trying to act through a mask. Hugo Weaving does his best; however it only takes a short while to be completely frustrated by the mask. Not only do we never see any facial expression, Weaving’s voice is muffled and difficult to listen to behind the mask. Eventually it’s simply easier to give up trying to pay attention to the dialogue.
Not that the dialogue is bad. There are some wonderful soliloquies and exchanges in the film. Some. V is put forth as an extremely witty and verbose former actor who delivers theatrical performances as he’s starting the revolution. Those exchanges disappear about twenty minutes into the film.
There are some action sequences in the movie. V carries around long daggers with which he fights. The expectation of these sequences is very high considering the magnificent history the Wachowski brothers have had in special effects and cinematography with their Matrix trilogy. However, all the action sequences (excepting the explosions at the beginning and ending of the film) come off as flat and uninteresting. The special effects are lackluster. Huge disappointment.
V for Vendetta is an over-hyped movie with occasional brilliance in dialogue combined with lazy special effects, tired action sequences, fatigued performances, plot holes, slow pace and a weak script. Take a pass and save yourself the time and money.