V for Vendetta comes to us from the Wachowski Brothers (Matrix Trilogy) and action film icon Joel Silver. As an action film, it certainly doesn't disappoint. Picture England as a police state. Very Big Brother, being ruled by the iron hand of the Chancellor (John Hurt). If anyone gets out of line or is the least bit different, they find themselves being "black-bagged" (so named for the black hood that goes over the head) and never heard from again. But someone has decided to stand up against the Chancellor and his Fingermen, his secret police force that enforce his rule. One evening, as Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman) finds herself out after curfew, she is surrounded by a group of Fingermen with rape on their mind. An enigmatic character dressed all in black and with a Guy Fawkes mask calling himself "V" (Hugo Weaving) comes to her rescue, killing the Fingermen. He then invites her to view his "symphony" and although she is afraid, she joins him. He then proceeds to blow up the Old Bailey, a British landmark, all set to the Overture of 1812, which he has somehow blasted through the Chancellor's speaker system set up around the city.
The next day, as Evey tries to forget what happens, she once again becomes involved in one of V's plots, when he holds the news building she works at hostage. She ends up having the opportunity to save him and she does, so of course he takes her back to his hidden home. When she awakens, he informs her that she must stay with him for one year, until the next 5th of November, for both her safety and his need to remain hidden. Evey finds herself surrounded by contraband and amazing works of art, which V has rescued over the years.
Evey is torn between wanting to go back to her life, which, of course, she never can, and wanting to help V. She sees that he is out to bring down the totalitarian regime that has held England in a grip of fear for many years. Evey, herself, has quite a political past as her parents were both black-bagged after rising up against the government after her little brother's death. She soon finds that V was a part of an experiment at Larkhill that rendered him who or what he is. Very strong, very smart, but horribly burned and with no memory of who he was before. His goal is to kill all of the individuals who were responsible for his present state - all people who used these experiments for both personal gain and/or political advancement, even if it meant the killing of their own countrymen en masse. He plans to use the history of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder plots as his theme.
Evey manages to engineer her escape from V, but is quickly captured when Fingermen storm her friend Gordon's apartment. She endures much torture and degradation before finally realizing that she no longer fears death. It is only then that she truly becomes enlightened and is able to join V in his fight to the finish.
V for Vendetta is a cinematic marvel with a very moving plot and engaging characters. Stephen Rea stars as Inspector Finch, a man that works for Chancellor Suttler, but has begun to question the regime. Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman are both amazing in their roles. Portman because she truly is an amazing actress and this role gives her another chance to shine (any doubters should watch her in The Professional when she was but a child) and Weaving is able to convey such emotion in his role, although we never even see his face. Outstanding!
Special features include several lengthy featurettes, including one on special effects and the building of the models, one of the story behind the graphic novel and also one of the history of the Gunpowder Plot, among others. There is a hysterical music video rap by Natalie Portman that appeared on Saturday Night Live that was so funny I had to watch it a few times. One Blu-ray exclusive feature is the fact that during the movie, you can access the Director's Notebook. The filmmaker's use this avenue to provide all sorts of extra info on everything about the movie.
The jump to Blu-ray is truly a rich one. Seeing the pyrotechincs as Parliament explodes, among other things, is a sight to behold, and the fight scene in the tunnels is simply stunning. If you have neglected to purchase V for Vendetta on DVD, then definitely get it on Blu-ray because it's beautiful.