V is another adaptation of an Alan Moore novel from which the author distanced himself upon its release. There are undeniably some minor faults with the movie version of Moore’s dystopian near-future, most glaringly perhaps Natalie Portman’s accent, but it’s a film which still paints a strangely believable Britain under the rule of the oppressive Norse Fire regime.
Moore’s original novel was designed to be about a battle between two political extremes, fascism and anarchism, but the Wachowski brothers’ screenplay toned down the anarchist side of the argument somewhat and instead shifted it to more of a popular uprising. The characters of Evey and V are also changed noticeably with Evey becoming a far more strong-willed and independent woman as opposed to a young and naïve street walker, and V is made much more human than in the novel where he is extremely cold and ruthless in his actions. Nevertheless, the finished article still works as a stinging critique of a complacent public who let government abuses go by unchallenged.
Director James McTeigue created a very American view of a totalitarian Britain (see Benny Hill style TV comedy and a ridiculous overuse of the word ‘bollocks’) but one that is run by arguably an even more fearsome and vile government than in the source material. Undesirables are taken from the beds and never seen again and the government conducts experiments on its own people. The Thatcherite setting of Moore’s novel may have been given a radical makeover in the film version but the powerful message that “people shouldn’t be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people” is still drilled home memorably.