Thursday, July 22, 2010

Movie Review - Equilibrium

I had several friends recommend Equilibrium to me over the last few years. Let's see ... Christian Bale, Sean Bean (LOTR), Emily Watson (Breaking the Waves), sci-fi, cool gun fights. I'm not sure why it took me so long to rent it. It came out quite a bit ago, 2002.

Equilibrium is a stylish movie, obviously borrowing from the Matrix in look and 1984 in concept. One of its cooler elements is the fictional Gun Kata martial arts fighting style that the director invented, borrowing from classic Kung Fu movie gun fighting.

The setup: near future. War has been abolished by making emotion and feeling illegal. Citing the extremes of emotion as being the cause of all war, people are required to take shots several times a day of a drug called Prozium to make them docile. People are not allowed to own or view art, listen to music, read literature. It's peace in name only. Classic war has been replaced with the state as judge, jury and executioner.

Christian Bale plays Grammaton Cleric First Class John Preston. Basically, they are instruments of the state that go out and destroy art and kill people for viewing it. He's the best at what he does and has a high standing in the government. Seemingly by accident, he forgets to take his meds and starts to feel natural human emotions. The main thrust of the plot follows Preston coming to terms with his humanity, with what society is, and his guilt.

Now, I like Christian Bale as an actor, but it seems like a lot of his roles are one note, and this is certainly no exception. Here, it reminds me of Keanu Reeves in the Matrix movies. Partly, that's due to the story ... you are not supposed to have emotion. But even once he has stopped taking the drug, he doesn't sell me completely that he feels. The rest of the cast is pretty good. I especially liked Angus MacFadyen (Braveheart) as the main bad guy, Dupont.

I've read reviews of this movie before and they're pretty universally negative. The movie bombed in the box office. Equilibrium came out during the height of the Matrix trilogy and I think it may have been unfairly compared to it. But it deserves to be judged on its own merits.

Equilibrium hits upon quite a few weighty subjects including oblique references to the MPAA film rating system and Prozac. The influence of art and propaganda are explored. Overall, I liked Equilibrium. It's certainly not classic, but like most sci-fi, it brings something intellectually to the table that makes it worth while. There's a yin and yang to life, light and dark. You might think you are solving a problem by eliminating the extremes, but you are instead destroying what makes us human. It's that raw emotion that creates true beauty, innovation, and love.  Grade:  B-

"One of the things which danger does to you after a time is -, well, to kill emotion. I don't think I shall ever feel anything again except fear. None of us can hate anymore - or love." -- Graham Greene


CyberKitten said...

How weird... I was just thinking of doing this as one of upcoming my Favourite Movie posts....

CyberKitten said...

BTW - Saw 'Inception' last night. *Very* good.

Erin O'Riordan said...

I love this movie...but then again, I'm completely obsessed with Christian Bale, so my opinion isn't the most unbiased.

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,

Enwrought with golden and silver light,

The blue and the dim and the dark cloths

Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet,

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."

dbackdad said...

CK -- I just saw Inception tonight. I agree. Very good. I'll probably write a review in the next few days.

Erin -- Thanks for stopping by! I checked out your blog and like it very much.

download movies said...

The film's story and message is clear.The action is fresh, original, readable and gets the adrenaline flowing.The atmosphere is clearly defined.The production design is inspired. Christian Bale and Emily Watson are superb.The ending is satisfying.