'V for Vendetta' is a mixed bag. It has a lot going for it, but is it enough? In the trend of 'totalitarian future government' movies, we are offered a vision of Britain where fear, along with religious and moral extremism, have created a world where everyday freedoms have been lost, and the population is controlled by an evil government.
Carrying on from such films and stories as '1984', 'Soylent Green', 'Equilibrium', the biggest problem with 'V for Vendetta', is that having been written in the 80s, its vision of a future Britain seems surprisingly quaint and out-of-date. Ironic, when films such as '1984' or 'Soylent Green' actually appear MORE relevant now. It is as though the Wachowski's (creators of the 'Matrix' trilogy) and/or the original Graphic Novel author, have added in Islamaphobia and terrorists to make it up-to-date, but forgotten to remove or update the elements that are OUT-of-date. Britain's public are already suffering under far more surveillance than the society of 'V for Vendetta'. That it would be controlled by extreme Christian fundamentalists seems utterly unlikely, given our current society that now ridicules and marginalises those with such beliefs.
There are other such marked elements, that simply stop the story ringing true. Were it to take the route of a film such as 'Equilibrium', using a fictional state, we could accept the differences. Being placed in a real country, it loses its credibility. Yet of course this story by its nature, MUST be set in Britain, and so should have been updated accordingly. The closest comparison would be 'Children of Men', which, while it has its own faults, does at least create a believable extrapolation of how British government and society could go. There are too many bad stereotypes in 'V for Vendetta', that betray its graphic novel roots, both visually, and story-wise. It is a shame that there is such a current trend for adapting comics and graphic novels. As a result, we are too often nowadays, treated to films that are visually intriguing but ultimately lack the depth of much that has come before them.
The other primary drawback is much in line with 'The Matrix'. The Wachowski's (even though not directing this time) take an interesting premise and basic story, dress it up, then do little with it. Masking the flaws with 'striking' visuals, or the like. Though admittedly, 'V for Vendetta' does not go down this route quite so markedly. The reason it probably didn't succeed as hoped, is because it didn't use the same trick as 'The Matrix', of covering its flaws with overly-exotic fight scenes. As such, it ironically makes for a better film, but less of a crowd pleaser.
The cast, for the most part, is pretty good. Hugo Weaving is functional, in a thankless role that doesn't allow him to do much, while Natalie Portman does her best, but unfortunately can't quite maintain a consistent British accent. Perhaps the most interesting, but undeveloped character, is the police officer who gradually pieces everything together. John Hurt chews the screen suitably in a limited role, but has an unfortunately lacklustre demise.
Overall, it is an interesting film, with at least a little depth to make you think. It'll pass a couple of hours, but ultimately leave you most likely a bit disappointed at the missed potential.