As this movie is currently stirring up a decent amount of controversy, I truly expected more. For starters, I don't think that the controversy is warranted, as the "issue" that everyone is talking about isn't really pulled off all that well.
Let me back up a bit. A few days ago, a friend and I were discussing movies, and how we look at them differently the older we get. For me, I want a movie to be one way or the other - i.e., either completely serious, or completely over-the-top stupid and un-realistic. If I am going to suspend belief in reality, a film needs to go all the way with it (Star Wars, X-Men, Batman, etc.). If, however, it tries to have a message and be serious, I would like it to be firmly based in reality. This is where Vendetta falls short.
It is obvious the correlation to current events that the producers/writers tried to make - creating a world where fear has lead a religious, conservative leader to take away the freedom of the people via censored news, curfews, and the rounding up of "undesirables." The hero, "V", is a victim of this tyranny and oppression, and subsequently sets out to destroy said fascist leader/government. This is where the current controversy arises over this film. The hero is labeled a "terrorist" and uses terrorist tactics to make his mark (blowing up buildings, for example). Many have said this glorifies terrorism, and that the movie sends the wrong message because of it.
My opinion? The movie, in brutal honesty, is not smart enough to send any real "message." Here's why (glad you asked) - if you view this movie as I do (in one of the two ways I described above) you can either suspend belief in reality and not take it serious, in which case it's hard to appreciate any real "message"; or you can take it seriously, in which case you must completely ignore reality and believe that we are only ten or fifteen years away from a religious, conservative dictator ruling a western country with a fascist Nazi-esque regime. I'm sure that there are many Moveon.org fruit-cakes who subscribe to that being a serious possibility, but for those of us who can pass a drug test, that's a little far fetched.
Am I taking a movie too seriously? Quite the opposite. This is the whole point of the review; I don't think you should take this movie seriously, but unfortunately, it falls in that middle ground of not-quite-serious and not quite full-fledged-fantasy, which leaves me feeling as if it is missing something. Is there any good to it? The acting was fantastic. Hugo Weaving's dialogue is some of best I have heard in a while, and it doesn't hurt that I got to look at Natalie Portman for two hours (even if she was bald for the last thirty minutes or so). The premise of the movie is a good one, even if it just doesn't fully exploit that potential. Visually speaking, it was very, very well done. Great soundtrack, as well. Something that seems more and more rare these days.
In the end, it just left me feeling let down. As if they could have done so much more. Seeing as how this was done by the same guys who did the Matrix trilogy, this is not surprising. Vendetta is along the same lines; a movie that tries to be deep, but ends up being no more than a screen adaptation of a comic book. Definitely worth a rental, but hard to say if it's worth more than that.
Read reviews from my buddy Jason here, and Dave at Garfield Ridge here, for a different perspective, if you wish.