Hardcore fans won't be pleased, but V for Vendetta pushes the envelope about as far a mainstream film can and still remain compelling, exciting, and (most importantly) profitable. This isn't a movie for children, although hopefully some will see it and be nudged out of their complacency. Vendatta is political thriller in which the titular character of V exacts revenge on the totalitarian government that destroyed his life and captivates his country. As the political leaders attempt to crackdown on the mysterious insurgent, the film questions the meaning of terrorism and the resonsibility of citizens. The film lacks the nuance of the book (in fact, it's quite heavy handed), moving fast and only touching on many of the aspects that made the original so powerful. Still, there are little rewards for the knowledgeable viewer.
Unfortunately, only the primary characters are fleshed out here, which adds to the film's more black and white approach. While I suspect that many viewers will be upset at V's moral ambiguity, he's a far cry from the anarchist that book fans know and love/hate. Hugo Weaving provides an adequate performance as V, although admittedly, there is only so much one can do behind a mask and with V's outrageous flair. Natalie Portman is probably a little too pretty to play Evey, but she puts in a strong performance as both victim and victor. Kudos to John Hurt who was masterfully cast as Chancellor. Not only does he portray megalomaniac on facial qualities alone, but it was wonderful to see him remade as Big Brother (after his role as Winston Smith in 1984). Similarly, Steven Rhea as the dour detective provides a sympathetic counterpoint to an otherwise corrupt bureaucracy.
Vendetta avoids many of the messier issues of the novel (the genocide of the non-whites, V's destruction of innocents, and anarchy as a solution to name a few), but it still manages to comment on some rather salient issues like the repression of gays, the restriction of civil liberties, and media manipulation. Vendetta is not Alan Moore's film (as he has taken great pains to point out), but it is a powerful piece of filmmaking at a time when people and the media should be discussing important issues like the role of their government (rather than an actress' new buzzcut hairstyle).