Science fiction and fantasy                                            



Equilibrium

directed by Kurt Wimmer

Equilibrium poster  
Following World War III, the survivors decide that such a disaster can never be allowed to happen again. Blaming it on human emotions, they introduce a drug called Prozium. Everyone must take it or risk being found guilty of sense crime, punishable by execution.

Christian Bale plays John Preston, an elite Grammaton cleric. Barely recognisable from the part of Quinn he played in Reign of Fire, Bale is clean-shaven, smart, and an uncommonly fast fighter. Preston practises Gun-Kata, the art of kicking butt whilst not getting shot. He obeys orders without question, showing no emotion even when his own wife was taken away, charged with sense offence. At the beginning of the film he feels nothing thanks to the drug, but you know things aren't going to stay that way.

For a society that has supposedly eradicated war and emotions, it is surprisingly violent. The 15 rating on this film is entirely due to this. The clerics work with squads of enforcers, often going outside the ordered city of Libria to search for sense offenders. The world is divided between the conforming masses and those who refuse to take their medication.

The style of the action is very much like The Matrix, all guns and wire work. Christian Bale even manages to look like Keanu Reeves as Neo. The future is plain, and involves many Nehru suits. In fact the whole look of the film is very stark, with uniform lines of buildings and people, and not a lot in the way of flora and fauna, or art. Part of the cleric's job is to find banned items such as books, decorations, and artwork, and then burn them. It would be a very sensually unexciting film to watch if it weren't for the excellent score, which really lifts the whole thing.

Emily Watson plays Mary, a sense offender who tells Preston: "Without feelings, life is just a clock ticking".

The cast, mostly relatively unknown, put in some good yet subtle performances. On Prozium, nobody feels much about anything, so every nuance counts.

Kurt Wimmer, who wrote the screenplay as well as directing, has borrowed liberally from several sources. There are elements of Fahrenheit 451, 1984, and Huxley's Brave New World in the plot. One one level it's nonsense. How could someone without feelings become a great fighter, care about a career enough to rise through the ranks? But, suspending our disbelief somewhat, this is an interesting exploration of the importance of feelings in what makes us human. Yet more than that it's an excuse for some flashy moves, a few explosions, and a genuine feeling of suspense as the story unfolds.

Film Details

Year: 2002

Categories: Films

  Science fiction

Classification: 15

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4 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson

Comments

Jonathan     17th February, 2005 18:00pm

Equalibrium was a wonderful excuse for for a movie. With a Keeanu Reeves look alike and scneario, emotionless suspense keeping you entranced. To the nay sayers, this is a matrix look alike. But the difference is that something isn't controlloing your mind, something is controlling you. Wiuth prozium, the world is brain dead, makeing humans into living robots. They would fight, kill and shoot on command and never question an order.

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