A broad science fiction thriller in a classic vein, Equilibrium takes a respectable stab at a Fahrenheit 451-like cautionary fable. The story finds Earth's post-World War III humankind in a state of severe emotional repression; if no-one feels anything, no-one will be inspired by dark passions to attack their neighbours. Writer-director Kurt Wimmer's monochromatic, Metropolis-influenced cityscape provides an excellent backdrop to the heavy-handed mission of John Preston (Christian Bale), a top cop who busts "sense offenders" and crushes sentimental, sensual, and artistic... relics from a bygone era. Predictably, Preston becomes intrigued by his victims and that which they die to cherish; he stops taking his mandatory, mood-flattening drug and is even aroused by a doomed prisoner (Emily Watson). Wimmer's wrongheaded martial arts/duelling guns motif is sheer silliness (a battle over a puppy doesn't help), but Equilibrium should be seen for Bale's moving performance as a man shocked back to human feeling. --Tom Keogh [show more]
A guilty pleasure filled with stunningly melancholic coats and a chiselled performance from the granite like Christian Bale, Equilibrium is a film often harshly forgotten by many. But I have a very good idea why this may be the case.
The film stars Christian Bale as John Preston a high ranking cleric in a dystopian future devoid of emotion. Emotions themselves have been made illegal and they are suppressed by daily doses of drugs. An interesting idea coupled together with the most intriguing cinematic future - Dystopian, has my ears prick up and my eyes light up. However the pacing of the film slowly extinguishes the brightness of the eyes and the enthusiasm of the ears.
My poor excuse of a beard grew into a beautiful and luscious mane of a beard during the first forty or so minutes of the film. There is a lot of dialogue with the opening of the film and it results in nothing really happening. When the palette for the film is understandable black and white you are at a lost as to what visual you should reward your eyes with. But thankfully the film begins to pick up a bit of steam as the sense deviants begin to emerge and bleed into the plot. I don't believe they are officially called sense deviants in the film, but deviant has a v in it and I will stick with it for this review. Now as this conflict develops, Preston begins to question his own thoughts and morals, he may even stop taking his prescribed Prozium and experience emotion. I think the answer to that is known, but it is the journey in which the film takes that is the most interesting and entertaining thing.
As I have said before, the beginning of the film is plodding, but if patient enough you will be rewarded with some brilliant action set pieces. There have been a numerous videos posted online showing the Gun Kata; the fictional gun fighting martial art of the film in action. Watching it is quite a sight to behold. They explain in the film that the reason for practicing Gun Kata is that it allows the gun to be used to its fullest and most effective potential - Less bullets are used, the trajectory of each bullet is precise, etc, etc. This is all shown to the viewer on what appears to be an iPad with an assortment of scientific dimensions and drawings. Now I am no expert, but I think Gun Kata may not be the most scientific sound or grounded martial art in film but it certainly looks fantastic.
A true ambassador of style over substance, Equilibrium also boasts a strong supporting cast. From Sean Bean, to the always fantastic Emily Watson everyone does a great job of conveying emotion without emotion if that makes any sense. It is a bit of a paradox and probably why the film rubbed many critics up the wrong way, but it's a film; there has got to be some limitations. Although there is probably too many liberties taken with the plot and acting that will in turn spoil the evening of the most stubborn of pedants. But for those willing to let the film flow will have a fun and enjoyable time with the film.
With Father's Day coming up and a fiver in your virtual pocket, Equilibrium is not a bad film to pick up for the gift giving process. It has some guns and some beautifully coats being showcased, it is also not followed by films Reloaded and Revolutions, so what's not to like for your doting dad?
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Please note this is a region 2 DVD and will require a region 2 (Europe) or region Free DVD Player in order to play. Much of the Earth's population has been destroyed by a Third World War and a new nation has emerged. Libria is ruled by The Father who forces all citizens to take a daily mind-altering drug called Prozia 2...
Cleric John Preston (Christian Bale) is a top government agent responsible for enforcing the law that bans emotion in the futuristic state of Libria. This is a world at peace, where war is a distant memory, and so is music, art and poetry. Here, emotion is illegal and is punishable by death. But when Preston is forced to kill one of his fellow agents he begins, however, to question the system and decides to fight against these cruel new laws.