Tuesday 18th January 2022

V for Vendetta (15)
Directed by: James McTeigue
Reviewed by: Paul Fonz

V for Vendetta is the story of an anarchic terrorist set on bringing down a post-apocalyptic, fascist Britain. Like the title character and the futuristic government featured in both the film and the graphic novel, controversy has never been far away from this film. James Purefoy, who was originally cast as the eponymous hero, walked off the set, apparently citing the old "creative differences" chestnut.

"It's no good – his head's still not on straight"
"It's no good – his head's still not on straight"

Then, shortly before its scheduled release last year, the film was understandably postponed due to the London bombings. But possibly the biggest indictment of all is that Alan Moore, the writer and genius behind the graphic novel, has asked for his name to be removed from the credits of the film and the book and all his profits and royalties to be distributed to the artist or to charity.

Well with a history like that, you have to wonder how the film turned out. Unfortunately for Purefoy, the makers solved one of the above problems by casting Hugo Weaving in the lead role, who is an excellent choice and brings the character of V to life in a vivid, charming and charismatic way – quite a feat when you consider his face is masked for the entire film.

The same can't quite be said for Natalie Portman, who plays Evey Hammond, V's sidekick. While it is pleasing that Evey is still British in the film version, it's annoying that a British actress wasn't cast. Portman is a great and beautiful actress, but in this role the strain of producing an English accent has reduced the quality of her performance. It seems that strange accent she employed as Queen Amidala in Star Wars was quite possibly meant to be British!

Nevertheless, there is plenty to enjoy in V for Vendetta. The costumes, sets and the whole style of the film are very faithful to the graphic novel of the early Eighties. All the major plot points are included, albeit in completely the wrong order and overall it hangs together pretty well as a film.

Sadly, some of the more adult themes have been cut out or re-written, as has a lot of the spectacularly fashioned dialogue. I don't know what sort of arrogance a screenwriter must have to take source material that is famed for one character's eloquence and turn of phrase and then re-write all his lines and quotations, but the Wachowski brothers must have it in spades.

Conversely, they have chosen not to add in extra action sequences and set pieces, and instead focused heavily on the police investigation to find and stop V. It's these decisions that stop V for Vendetta becoming the adult and thought-provoking film it should have been or the generic comic book fare we're used to and actually make it feel more like an experimental BBC detective series.

I've heard this film described as the "least bad Alan Moore adaptation" and while that is a pretty fair summation (previous attempts include From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentleman) I can't help but think we still deserve better.

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Length: 132 minutes
Certificate: 15
Official Site:
IMDB Link:
Release Date: 17th March 2006

Top Five Rating: 60.0%60.0%60.0%60.0%60.0%60.0%60.0%60.0%60.0%60.0% (60.0%)
User Rating: 76.6%76.6%76.6%76.6%76.6%76.6%76.6%76.6%76.6%76.6% (76.6%)

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