Director: Kurt Wimmer
Following a third World War in the 21st century (hey…that’s like right now…we be fucked), the government-- believing that “feelings” are what drives mankind to chaos-- imposes suppression of all emotions via the destruction of individuality/creative expression and a diet of Proxium (a numbing drug). An order known as “Clerics” have been formed to uphold that regime by delivering death as punishment to anyone who breaks the law. When the top Cleric (Bale) stops taking his Frigid Vitamin, he gradually awakens emotionally and sees the world under a different light. Violent conflict between he and the establishment he used to serve arises. Whip out those guns...it's rebellion time!
"To feel! 'Cause you have never done it, you can never know it. But it's as vital as breath and without it, without love, without anger, without sorrow, breath is just a clock...ticking." -- Mary
It looks like I just found my favorite ditty of 2003 thus far-- yes, I said 2003 since Dimension Films chose not to give this gem a major North American theatrical slot last year (it was released in limited theaters) and dumped it on DVD this year instead. What’s going on with Dimension Films anyways? Are they that strapped for cash? Like seriously? They wear their “sausage factory” attitude on their sleeves more so than usual of late. Will every movie they distribute “wide” HAVE to be a target audience-inclined product as opposed to an actual layered and challenging cinematic entry? With their double-diss of "Below" and "Equilibrium", it sure seems like it. Boo this studio….BOOOOO!!
Now let's talk "Equilibrium"! To put it bluntly, echoing the subject matter of this film made me feel deeply on various levels through its many elements. It stirred bubbles within me as a character study, it gave me ultimate shootout fanboy rushes through its kinetic and violent action scenes and had me using the old noggin through its social commentary as well. The film’s core, which was Christian Bale’s character of Preston, was the main hook to this tale for me. I was totally imbued in Preston’s gradual awakening to the sensory world around him and to his coming to grips with his past actions. The flick put out some genuinely poignant scenes that not only had me riveted to the screen, but also had tears build up in my sockets (all about that dog bit).
The film also sported gripping subplots, which tied in perfectly with what Preston was going through and that upped the emotional impact of the film. The one involving Emily Watson (O'Brien) was easily the side story that affected me the most. Another plus was that the film explored its main theme (feelings versus a fascist society) without ever force-feeding it to me. Since the narrative used this one man's particular trek to evoke its deeper questions, it made the substance go down much smoother due to its introspective nature within the larger scope of the film.
And then there was the fight scenes...this film is actually not an all-out action fest, but when the physical goodies arose, they hit even harder since I had so much invested in the story and the lead character. I was feeling it hardcore! I can’t count how many times I suddenly jerked up on the edge of my couch, mouth agape, totally blown away by the tight mayhem before me. I’ve heard many compare the action scenes here to ones found in "The Matrix", but I beg to differ. Sure, there’s an insane shootout that took place in a corridor much like in "The Matrix" but apart from that, there’s no bullet time here, no wire work and the tight, Kata-like choreographies were totally different in tone than the ones found in aforementioned film.
Actually, "Equilibrium" delivered some of its physical happenings in quite the unique fashion with the “guns” used as extensions of one’s fists in the hand-to-hand combats being the fresher of the lot. I also mucho grooved on the ballet/Zen-like way in which Preston disposed of his foes-- it made for quite an entrancing, slaughter-heavy, yet poetic show. Props go out to Christian Bale for selling the rumbling like a freaking champ. He must have trained like a bastard to get those down pat or he just must be THAT good! Good for you dude! Keep them coming.
On slight negative notes, the film did thread the same thematic ground for a bit too long during the middle section, but Bale’s kickass show made it worth watching. I also found that Taye Digs smiled a bit too much for a dude who was not supposed to feel anything, but again that was very minor. On a graver note, some of the subplots were not always fully emphasized upon (the kids come to mind) therefore lessening the impact they should’ve had. Lastly, although I grooved on the setting’s sterile, Nazi-like set designs, the film’s coin didn’t always match its ambitions. Some of the matte paintings were very obvious.
On the whole though, "Equilibrium" was a well-written, thought-provoking, enthralling, good looking and touching film with a stellar cast to boot (you can’t go wrong with Sean Bean, Taye Digs and Emily Watson). I got a lot out of this one and maybe you will too, but: “Not without incident”…YEAHHHH! Man, I loved this film!
We get mucho bullet hits (some in the face) and some sword play that cuts deep. Not overly gory, but the flick does have a couple of very graphic surprises.
Christian Bale (John) IS this movie and he carried it like a freakin' acting genius. He hit all the right notes and garnered even more respect from yours truly. Emily Watson (O'Brien) had a small, but memorable role here and once again, came through. Such expressive blue eyes on that girl...wow. Taye Diggs (Brandt) laid on the subtle charisma and it worked for the part; I didn't always know where he stood and that made him a captivating character. Sean Bean (Partridge) had a cameo here and got to read the poem "He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven" by W.B. Yeats. It was a beautiful moment.
T & A
Nothing female here. All about Christian Bale. The man was in tip-top shape and the ladies will be happy to know that muscle boy was shirtless a lot here. Definitely inspired me to hit the gym harder.
Wimmer gave the film quite a stylistic vibe through a potent use of slow/fast motion and lots of creative shots. The slick editing also helped make the film look "money". NOTE: I loved the subliminal “Seven”-like frame at the end of the film. Sure, it was a rip on “Seven”, but a good rip nonetheless.
The touching orchestral score upped the film’s more mature feel and I also dug the metal/techno during the action scenes.
"Equilibrium" is not a perfect film and did remind me of other films at times ("Fahrenheit 451", “Gattaca” and “1984”), but there’s no denying how it moved me as I was watching it. I SHOULD have seen this bad boy on the big screen...shame on you Dimensions Films!! This baby is a superior, cerebral, emotionally charged Sci-Fi action flick that made me think, feel, while at the same time injecting me with my daily intake of jaw-dropping action and violence. It will not appeal to everybody, it’s not a totally mainstream serving and I assume that’s why Dimension treated it like a straight-to-video Sinbad movie. Not since the original "Terminator" and "The Matrix" have I seen a Sci-Fi flick that affected me so much. Run to your video stores, curse Dimension Films on the way there and pick this one up. I’m going to watch it again myself…as we speak!
The original title of this film was to be "Librium." It was later changed to "Equilibrium."
The film’s shoot lasted 54 days and the budget was 20 Million clams.
Kurt Wimmer also wrote the screenplay for this film.
Kurt Wimmer wrote "The Recruit" and "The Thomas Crown Affair" remake screenplay. He also directed some of the Brain Bosworth actionner “One Man’s Justice” (he was replaced halfway through shooting).