V FOR VENDETTA
"Remember, remember the fifth of November, the gunpowder, treason and plot. I see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot."
We hear Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman) reciting these words as we see Guy Fawkes on November 5th, 1605, attempting to blow up Parliament. He is intercepted by a dozen or so members of Britain's royal guard, and is sentenced to hang until dead. At the hanging, he briefly makes eye contact with his wife before the panel drops out from under his feet and he is killed.
425 years later...
We see two seperate people getting ready to go out that evening while watching a news post from the voice of Parliament, Lewis Prothero (Roger Allam). One is Evey, who puts on lipstick and a rather alluring dress before turning the TV off and calling it bullshit. The other is the man known only as V, who is only seen wearing a Guy Fawkes mask. He throws on a hat, cape, and about twenty daggers before heading out. On the street, Evey steps out to head to her friend and manager Gordon's house just in time to hear a voice say that curfew is now in effect and anyone found on the streets will be arrested. She continues on anyway but soon finds herself confronted by a group of men who ask where she thinks she's going. After a few failed attempts to get away, the men start getting rough and reveal themselves as Fingermen (think British secret police). They tell Evey she'll soon be very sorry, but just then, V strides up. He gets the Fingermen to come to him instead, and he quickly dispatches them in front of a very frightened Evey. He introduces himself to her in an over the top fashion, saying a word that starts with "V" every two words, if not more frequently, and she gently asks if he's mad. He chuckles and assures her that everything is quite alright, and then asks if she likes music, for he is both a conductor and a player of the drums. She says yes and we next see the pair on a rooftop overlooking the city. V pushes a button and asks Evey if she knows what day it is. She replies, "November 4th." Just then, Big Ben starts ringing midnight, and V says, "Not anymore," and recites the Guy Fawkes rhyme. He begins conducting and at first Evey hears nothing, but suddenly the 1812 overture begins playing from speakers set up throughout the streets courtesy of the government. Suddenly, the Old Bailey building blows up in a massive display of fireworks, one of which creates a humongous V in the sky.
The next day we see a meeting in a darkened room of a dozen men high in government, such as Prothero, Bishop John Lilliman (John Standing), Chief Inspector David Finch (Stephen Rea), and Finch's superboss William Creedy (Tim Pigott-Smith) in a teleconference with High Chancellor Adam Sutler (John Hurt). The meeting is about covering up what V did by saying that it was a planned demolition for reconstruction work to begin on the tower. Meanwhile, we go to BTN News, where all the hubbub is about what V did last night, and where Evey works as a kind of gopher to the more important (at least to them) people. While we see Evey going through her daily routine and apologizing to Gordon (Stephen Fry) for not showing up last night, we also see Finch and his assistant Dominic (Rupert Graves) getting a lead on Evey, who they are using to try and track down V, even raiding her flat in the hope that they'll find something. Just as they find where she works and start heading over there (learning that her parents died in riots when she was young), Evey herself is delivering a bunch of packages to the set, where the wardrobe designer opens them up to find...a bunch of Guy Fawkes masks. Evey pales and runs off.
Meanwhile, we see V getting into the station and esentially taking control of everything there. As the police learn where he is, V sets up a broadcast. It heads out on every available station and basically says that there was once a holiday celebrated today that the government has made us forget. V, however, plans to rebirth that holiday and its ideals, such as freedom and justice, one year from tonight, and asks that the entire populace of Britain join him to bring down Parliament one year from tonight. While this is being broadcast, we go to various spots in Londodn and see many different types of people all responding positively to V's words. Meanwhile, Evey has heard this and is running through the building looking for V. meanwhile, Finch is right outside the soundstage and busts in, but finds dozens of people wearing V's outfit. Two of them break out into the hall. Guns are held on both and Finch unmasks...the lead reporter. V then takes down all of the cops, killing some but sparing Finch, Dominic, and one or two others. He is about to make his exit when a cop gets him from behind. Evey sees this, makes a choice, and takes the cop out with some pepper spray. he screams and knocks her out, but V is now able to take him down. He looks at the unconscious Evey, and takes her. Later, we see Finch surveying the wreckage (metaphorically -- no bombs this time) and wondering why V took Evey...
Some time later, we see Evey waking up in a bed somewhere. She gets out of bed and hears music coming from some unknown source. She wanders around the flat until she finds an old jukebox. She turns and finds V standing behind her. He tells her that she is in his private home and that because of what they both did -- her saving him and him taking her -- she has to stay there until his revolution is over a year from now. Naturally, this is less than pleasing to her and she freaks, but he is adamant. She goes to the bedroom and weeps, but next morning over breakfast she is more understanding of and recptive to the idea. A few weeks pass, and one night we see Lewis Prothero on the phone in his bathroom getting ready to shower and yelling at some camera guy about how he looked in a recent broadcast. he hangs up the phone and starts talking along with the broadcast when he is attacked from behind by V. V taunts the guy and calls him "Commander" and we briefly see Prothero as a commander at some sort of hospital. V kills Prothero and places a rose on the body. The next morning, we see Finch and Dominic at the crime scene and planning to cover it up by saying he had some sort of stroke in the night.
Later that day, Evey is awakened by the sounds of fighting. She rushes out and sees V dueling with a suit of armor while a movie plays on the telly. He explains that the movie is his favorite, "The Count of Monte Cristo", and he asks if she's ever seen it. She says no, and the two sit down to watch it. After it's over, Evey says that it makes her sad for Mercedes, since Edmond Dantes (the count) ended up caring more for his revenge than he did for her. Right on cue, a news report comes on talking about Prothero's death. Evey says that she knows the reporter is lying because she blinks too much and asks V if he had anything to do with this. He says yes and when questioned, he goes onto say that he will be killing more people before everything is done.
More time passes. We see Finch find out that Prothero was a commander at Lakehill Base, which was working on a cure for the St. Mary's virus years ago. They go to see the major who was in charge of things there, but due to the secrcy of it, he gives replies which don't help them much in their questioning. Meanwhile, Evey comes to a decision and goes to V, who is examining some old paintings. She tells him how as a child, she watched as her baby brother died as a result of the viruses that ravaged London...the ones Prothero's group were supposedly trying to find a cure for. She went out with her parents, who became more and more militant, at first passing out papers condeming the government, but becoming more and more active, eventually leading to the death of her father in a riot. Not long after, men came for her mother and "black bagged" her. She tells V that she wishes she was strong enough to do something, but she isn't. Finally, she tells him that iif there is ever anything she can do to help in his revolution, she will. He thanks her for the offer.
Back with Finch and Dominic, we see them getting some tax records for the mystery camp. One of them mentions a bishop, John Lilliman. We go to that worthy to see one of his lowers saying that the package has arrived and is in his office, but it is older than normal. Lilliman goes into the office, and waiting for him is Evey, all dolled up in a 1950s high school poodle-skirt outfit complete with shorts bang and mega-curled hair. She goes to Lilliman's bed, but she immediately begins warning him that V will be coming through the door to kill him any minute. He doesn't believe her and begins to rape her, but is interrupted when V comes in. Lilliman yells out, "She was right!" and V glances at Evey who gives him an "I'm sorry" look. She runs out the building while he takes care of Lindeman. Later, Finch is at the crime scene and about to start clean up when Creedy arrives and tells him to stop looking into V's past. Meanwhile, Evey has gotten to Gordon's house and after a minute, he lets her in. She tells him everything that's happened and he agrees to put her up. When she asks why, he shows her a bunch of old reliqgious and political stuff he has, such as a Koran and a socialist flag. He tells Evey that he's not scared about helping her because if they find her here and they find what he has, than her presence will be the least of his worries.
Elsewhere, we see Finch talking to a coroner, Delia Surridge (Sinéad Cusack). He tells her what happened with the bishop and leaves her with a type of flower that was supposed to be extinct that V leaves on all his victims. Later, Finch is reviewing the background info from Lakehill again and notice a name that they haven't been able to find, Dr. Diana Santos. They do a search and that night get results which say that she changed her name to Delia Surridge, and Finch realizes where they need to be. Meanwhile, at Delia's house, she wakes up from a sound sleep and intuitively knows that V is there. They talk, and she apologizes for what was done to him, saying that it was not what was intended. He responds by saying she still must have known it was wrong, and she agrees. She asks if he's going to kill her now, but he says, "I already did kill you...ten minutes ago, while you slept." She says, "Is it too late to ask for forgiveness?" He says no, and she asks if it will hurt. He says no again, and she dies silently. He leaves just before the cops arrive. On her bedstand, Finch finds a little diary that V had left for them to find.
Later that night, Finch reads the diary. It tells Santos's tale of how they had brought a bunch of prisoners to Lakehill and experimented on them, injecting them with drugs and various other things in an attempt to find both the perfect biological weapon and it's cure. However, the injections either killed the subjects -- most of them, actually -- or drove them insane. Only one man managed to take the injections and still stay somewhat sane...the man who was kept in cell V, or five. Things stayed this way until November fifth, when the whole camp burned down. Most of the people there barely survived, and as Santos was being pulled from the wreckage, she looked back and saw codename V emerging from the wreckage, being burned alive. He looks straight at her, and she sees in the blackened sockets that were once eyes hatred and pain, right before he screams in rage. The next morning, he asks Dominic a deep question...if he could know the true identity of the killer or killers of a group of people, even though someone else had been successfully tried and convicted for the crime, would he want to? When Dominic says yes, Finch then asks would he still want to know if the answer were the government.
A few nights later, we see George and Evey on his couch getting ready to watch his SNL style show. The show begins and we see the guest come out -- High Chancellor Sutler! Evey stares in shock as George smiles, and on the show we see the camera focus on a group of gunmen forcing the audience to applaud. George starts the interview when we suddenly see V lurking behind the chancellor. He starts torturing the chancellor and hides in the band, where the camera quickly picks him out. V shrugs and runs, and a keystone cops chase sequence takes place, with George providing the banana peel for them to slip on. Eventually V gets unmasked and it's -- High Chancellor Sutler! The two chancellors square off and ultimately the firing squad just eliminates both of them, much to onscreen George's chagrin. Back at George's house, he is trying to reassure Evey that nothing bad will come of this. Later that night though, while Evey is trying to get to sleep, the baggers come for him. He tells Evey to hide under the bed, which she does. They break down the door to her room and take him, but don't see her. They leave and she sneaks out the window and falls to the ground. She recovers and heads for the street, but a soldier grabs her and knocks her out.
When Evey wakes up, she finds herself in what looks like a governmental detention center. A voice charges her with treason and murder, and says that the only way out is to give them the identity or whereabouts of codename V. She says she doesn't know and she gets her head shaved (onscreen -- bye-bye Portman hair) and is issued a prison uniform. She is locked in a cell with a little hole for a paltry breakfast meal to be delivered each day. Every now and then, the man who condemned her will come back and torture her some, attempting to get her to reveal what she knows, but since she knows nothing and they don't believe that, the torture continues. One day, Evey notices a hole in the wall that a mouse has been coming in and out of for a while. She reaches in and finds a letter written on toilet paper from a woman named Valerie. Apparently Valerie (Natasha Wightman) had been a prisoner in this cell years ago. She was gay, and when her parents found out they pretty much disowned her and condemned her and her lover, Christine. Regardless, they got on, and eventually Valerie found aa life working in film as an actress and a newer greater love in Ruth. The two moved in together and watched in equal horror as the war America started was brought to England, where eventually the plagues hit. Ruth ended up like Evey's parents, heading out to fight, and she was killed for it. Christine herself was black-bagged, imprisoned, and tested upon. She ends by saying that sshe knows shhe will never leave these walls alive, and whoever reads these words, she hopes that that person escapes. She closes by saying that she loves the reader, with all her heart.
Some time later, the man comes in one last time. He tells Evey that this is her last chance to cooperate, or she will be brought out behind the chemical tanks and shot by a firing squad. The man asks if she understands this and she says, "Yes." When he asks if she is ready to cooperate, she says simply, "No." The man says that her fear has apparently left her now, and his voice sounds strangely familiar. He leaves Evey, leaving the door open behind him. Slowly, she goes up to it and walks out. She comes to two guards at the end of the hall, only to find that they are mannequins. She opens a door at the end, and finds herself in V's house. He steps out and admits that he did it all to her, and she moves to attack him, but he says that that's good, that he made her stronger now -- made her what she said she wanted to be. He asks her if she was standing in front of that firing squad right now, how would she feel, and she says she'd feel complete. He nods and takes her outside for the first time in months. She stands on the rooftop as a storm starts, and she just tilts her head back and lets the rain fall on her, smiling jubilantly.
The happiness doesn't last, though. Not long after this, Evey tells V that she is leaving. He is listening to his jukebox and says that he has never danced to any song on his jukebox. She says that she was going to take the letter, but changed her mind since it was as fake as anything else. He then shakes his head and shows her a room filled with posters featuring Valerie. She realizes that Valerie was real, and V says that she was in the cell next to his at Lakehill. She keeps the letter, and agrees to a request of V's that she come back to visit him one more time before the fifth, which is fast approaching. Meanwhile, Finch has been working like crazy to come up with a name for V, and he thinks he finally has one when he finds a missing persons report for a prison transfer where three prisoners were unaccounted for, but now only one is -- William Rookwood. Almost the same time he gets the name, he recieves an email that says "Inspector, you have been looking for me. It is high time we met. If you wish to do so, reply to this message and I will send you contact information.' The letter is signed WR.
A few nights later, we see Dominic and Finch in a park near a memorial dedicated to the victims of St. Mary's virus. They see a homeless man sitting on a bench, but when he addresses them we hear the voice of V. He tells them a story. Once upon a time, there was a man so intent on obtaining the highest seat of government that the land could offer that he fabricated a war within his own country. To combat this war, he dedicated time and money to creating a virus that would end it, and a cure to end the virus. However, the virus needed to be tested, and he felt that what better way to test the virus than unleash it right at home. Three sites were designated -- St. Mary's private school, a city park, and Three Waters water purification center -- as a release for the virus. The virus was a success, if such a thing can be deemed that, and over 100,000 people were killed by it before the cure would be administered. meanwhile, the man behind all this came to power just as he anticipated, and he even created a newer, higher office for himself, with the support of the people...and that man is now the high chancellor. The meeting ends, and V leaves the two men there. His next stop is the house of Creedy, where he threatens to kill him if he does not help V with a certain task on the fifth. He leaves a piece of chalk for Creedy to mark his door with an X with if he agrees to help.
The next day, we see Finch on the phone with someone and hear him find out that William Rookwood has been dead for twenty years...apparently V has pulled the wool over their eyes again. Meanwhile, Finch's department begins getting reports of people in Guy Fawkes masks running around town, robbing places and in general causing chaos. At the same time, we see Evey see a girl in glasses who we have seen watching V on TV spray painting a V symbol over some government propaganda. The girl sees Evey and runs off, and Evey picks up the spray can and finishes the job. At the station, Dominic asks what V could hope to accomplish, and as we see a fingerman shoot one of the masked Mini-Vs, and see the girl with glasses fall forward as her mask falls off and an angry crowd beat the Fingerman to death, and as we see riots taking place throughout London while the High Chancellor orders his men to step up protection of parliament from ground and air attack, despite Finch's suggestion of a possible subway attack from the closed off train tracks, we hear Finch give Dominic the simplest answer possible -- "Chaos."
Finally, November fifth rolls around once more. The day is relatively quiet. Late in the afternoon, we see V in his home when the jukebox begins playing music. He goes and finds that Evey has at last come to visit him. She congratulates him on the progress made and says that the other day, she was shopping in the market dropped some money, and an old college of hers from the news station bent over and gave her back the money without even recognizing her, showing just how much she has changed. He says that he has a gift for her, and she will recieve it if she dances with him. She is a little surprised, but is more than willing to do so. As they dance, we see a meeting taking place between Finch, Creedy, and the High Chancellor regarding security for tonight. Back with V and Evey, the finish dancing, and he shows her his gift to her -- the train which will blow up Parliament...if she wishes it too. He tells her that he has to go and do something else, and that he cannot send it off, since he will likely die. She says that he doesn't have to, and they can run away and leave it all. He says that tonight, the world will be changed, and he will not be needed in it, and despite her attempts to change his mind, he leaves and heads off for a meeting.
In London proper, all is quiet. The streets, the houses, and the businesses are all eerily quiet. In the underground, we see Creedyand a dozen men gathered to meet with V, who suddenly appears right in the middle of them. He and Creedy talk and exchange bitter vibes as above them, the Chancellor broadcasts a city wide message condemning V and threatening the arrest and death upon anyone caught wearing an outfit like his. Just as he finishes, Creedy brings out an apparent victim of a black-bag op, and reveals...the High Chancellor. V mocks him for a moment, and then allows Creedy to shoot him. Creedy then orders his men to take positions to bring down V, but V cautions them that he had best not be standing when their guns are empty. They fire all their ammunition, but to no avail -- V remains alive, and he brings them all down in the ultimate slow-motion fight that puts The Matrix to shame. V approaches Creedy, snaps his neck, and staggers away, leaving a bloodstain along the walls he now has to lean against for support.
Above, the entirety of London's miliotary is out front to protect Parliament from attack when suddenly hundreds of Vs come into view. They begin marching on the army, and after a furious internal struggle, the head seargent orders his men to let the vs pass, which they do, climbing all over the barriers and men in their way. Back at the train, Evey is in her own internal struggle over whether or not to start the train. She is interrupted by the reappearance of V. He tells her that he is finished and his time is over. He dies in front of her, and Evey somehow manages to load his body into the train and cover it with roses from his collection. She is about to start the train when Finch shows up. He holds his gun on her, but she either doesn't notice or doesn't care. After a moment, she convinces him to lower his gun. She pulls the start lever on the train, steps out, and watches as the doors close and the train takes off. She asks Finch if he likes music, and the two head to the rooftop overlooking London, where Evey stood a year ago as V conducted the destruction of the Old Bailey building. Evey puts on the 1812 overture which begins playing just as the train reaches parliament and blows it sky high to the gathered amazement of the hundreds of V loyalists. On the rooftop, Finch asks Evey who he was, and she replies, ""He was Edmund Dantes. He was my father, and my mother. He was my brother. He was you, and me. He was all of us." As the pair watch the spectacle, we hear Evey say that she thinks of everything that has happened, and that she will never forget the day, and she will never forget the man.