‘V for Vendetta’ provides thrills and chills

Elizabeth Milarcik

“V for Vendetta” joins countless other masochistic films in unfaithfully advertising itself. Previews for ‘Vendetta’ featured the film’s several explosions as well as its swashbuckling hero, thinking that these flashy features would attract viewers. The truth of the matter, however, is that “V for Vendetta” doesn’t need to rely on these childish ploys to attract attention. This film’s strength lies not in predictable blockbuster gimmicks, but in its chilling story.

The basis for the movie is a futuristic Britain with a totalitarian government reminiscent of Nazi Germany: The nightly news is a tool of the government, telling lies to the people to keep them content. A strict curfew is enforced; gays and lesbians are sent to prison. The world is in a bad state, but many of the people don’t seem to notice, going through the regular motions of their lives – until one figure makes them take notice: V, the unidentified man who prances about in a Guy Fawkes mask. V copies Fawkesin more ways than this, however. By destroying a London landmark, he plants the seeds of rebellion in this fear-driven society. V’s goal, as he announces on television, is to obliterate the Parliament building in one year – with the people of England standing outside in support. “V for Vendetta” tells the story of the ensuing year, following the life of Evey, a regular girl who accidentally becomes involved with V when he saves her from some disgruntled government officials. As the year progresses, she becomes more deeply immersed in the escalating situation as she uncovers not only the secrets of the government, but also the secrets of V.This film may seem comic book-like at first, an unsurprising fact since the film is based on a graphic novel. V’s initial appearance is all flourishes and witticisms as he casually swordfights and nonchalantly quotes “Macbeth.”

But, just as with the film, V’s extravagant exterior is only part of the story; the true thrill comes from a core of substance. As the events of the movie unfold, the viewer becomes acquainted with V’s, and in turn the country’s, disturbing past. The events of the past, including the mystery of a virus that killed hundreds of thousands, are hauntingly portrayed through personal anecdotes (Evey’s little brother was killed by the virus) and unsettling images (the government leader’s use of a symbol during election time strengthens the intended parallels to Hitler’s rule). The movie teaches Evey to question the past: Britain’s strict government was a result of chaos that was rampant in England, but where did this chaos come from in the first place?

The topic of the movie is so serious that the comic book flourishes it retains seem a little out of place. V’s opening speech, in which almost every word begins with the letter (you guessed it) “V,” is a juvenile introduction, considering how much depth the rest of the film possesses. Awkward moments arise whenever the movie strays from the main plot and peeks into Evey’s relationship with V.

The acting is stiff in these moments, and some of the lines are simply corny. “I’ve listened to all of [these songs],” V says at one point, “but I’ve never danced to any.” After the intensity of the rest of the film, V’s inability to flirt with a girl simply doesn’t seem that interesting. A few minor slips such as these moments, however, are allowed in a film that is otherwise brilliantly assembled. Powerful without being overbearing, “V for Vendetta” is definitely a must-see.