Equilibrium

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equilibrium.jpg

In a future where freedom is outlawed, outlaws will become heroes.

2002

Genres:
Sci-Fi, Action, Dystopian, Cyberpunk

Starring:
Christian Bale, Taye Diggs, Sean Bean, Emily Watson

Summary:
You are living in a futuristic society. Your emotions, feelings, and sensations are all being suppressed by Prozia, a drug you are forced to take at certain intervals during the day under penalty of incineration. This is the world in which the Grammaton Cleric John Preston (Bale) lives. He is part of an elite branch of law enforcement and must answer only to his superiors, including the chief executive who is simply called Father.

After humans have almost exterminated themselves in a 3rd World War, hate, rage, and sorrow were banned from human existence, unfortunately along with love, passion, and happiness. The duties of the Clerics are to uphold the law by destroying members of the resistance who refuse to take the emotion-blocking drug, along with their hordes of artwork, books and even pets. Anything that might cause feelings or emotions to surface is outlawed. Anyone who ceases to take their drugs becomes a sense offender and is hunted down and incinerated without trial; Preston's wife was such a person.

Through a series of events including random chance and the discovery that his friend and partner (Bean) is a member of the resistance, Preston stops taking his Prozia. Once off the drug, he meets his partner's lover (Watson) and turns all his attention and efforts to discovering the leaders of the resistance and assisting them in an attempt to overthrow the Father and his authoritarian regime.

Response:
This movie was well cast, and Christian Bale foreshadows his future success as Batman by playing such a strong action hero role. Preston's transistion from cold killer to passionate hero was believable and at times, touching, particularly the incident with the puppy which brought out the sensitivity of the changing character of the cleric. The scenes with Watson and Bale were superb and subtle, with small gestures and facial expressions conveying huge meaning. The great acting prevented the movie from sliding into the over-the-top 2-dimensional excess of other similar sci-fi films and really made for an engaging story. Along with the strong supporting cast and spectacular visuals, Equilibrium was a very enjoyable, thought-provoking movie, and some small twists at the end added a distinct surprise.

Of course Equilibrium is in part a cult hit because of its introduction of gun kata, a martial arts style of fighting in which guns are used in close combat for both shooting, striking, and bludgeoning, with the knowledge of the opponents' position and training used to predict their moves. This is of course a ridiculously far-fetched idea, and on numerous occasions Bale manages to kill dozens of men with no harm to himself. However, this is not the point. Gun kata looks very cool, and Bale looks very cool doing it.

Although Equilibrium no doubt has a Matrix feel to it, this movie has its own message to deliver. It had strong religious overtones, with references to clerics, their garb and the Father. It borrows unapologetically from Fahrenheit 451 with the banning and burning of all books, A Brave New World with a drug-controlled society, and 1984 with an omnipresent dictator. Fortunately, Equilibrium borrows all the right concepts from these classic sci-fi novels and blends them into an entertaining and thought-provoking film.

Point Blank: All in all I would highly recommend this movie, particularly if you enjoyed any of the novels or films mentioned above.


Reviewed by Mary Bissonnette

Equilibrium vs The Matrix

I also really liked this movie for many of the reasons mentioned above.

I should mention that I love the Matrix (the first one, not the sequels), but I just couldn't help wondering how much better The Matrix would have been if Christian Bale had been cast as Neo! Imagine Neo actually being able to show more than the confused dumb Keanu expression.

It is generally agreed that Equilibrium failed in the theaters due to piss poor promotion, something the creators of The Matrix did not have to worry about. Fortunately, Equilibrium has found a cult following in its DVD incarnation.

Critics of this movie often point to its similiarities to The Matrix and classic sf novels (A Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, 1984). Yeah, these concepts and styles overlap. So what? Most sf movies out there borrow heavily on ideas and styles established elsewhere. And if you're going to mish-mash some classic scifi concepts, I'd say Bradbury, Huxley, and Orwell are some pretty good guys to borrow from.... Dress the film up in some borrowed long leather coats from The Matrix and you've got one entertaining flick!

On a side note, Equilibrium was only made for $20 million, compared with $60 million for The Matrix.