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4.3 out of 5 stars
Equilibrium
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Showing 1-10 of 11 reviews(3 star)show all reviews
Borrowing from, perhaps, every science fiction or related genre films (FAHRENHEIT 451's censorship, 1984's Big Brotherism, BLADE RUNNER's search for truth, THX 1138's outlaw of emotion, THE MATRIX's kinetic action, the ZATOICHI series of samurai films, LOGAN'S RUN awakening Sandman themes, and even DEMOLITION MAN's brainwashed hero / antihero), EQUILIBRIUM never quite finds the perfect balance in the mix of sociopolitical themes ... but it sure boasts an impressive performance by Christian Bale as the emotion-killer 'Cleric' who slowly discovers his feelings, only to find survival and salvation in once again tossing emotions aside.
Think DANGEROUS LIAISONS. In the future. Dressed all in black. With guns.
In this cautionary tale of the near-future, emotion -- the source of all things human -- has been outlawed. Those found exploring their emotions are destroyed, burned to death in chambers of unforgiving stone and steel. Still, the lack of emotion occasionally hampers a story almost crying out to be told by Bale's John Preston. The few reserved smiles he shares whilst finding the humanity buried deep within himself are barely enough to keep one's interest. Those who make the trip, however, are rewarded with a crescendo by newcomer Bale. Easily, he makes the most of heavily-choreographed revolutionist climax.
While the film's dueling guns philosophy (gunkata?) feels occasionally out of place in a world denied emotion, the writer/director keeps tipping his story back and forth between the more interesting elements (emotional discovery in human expressions, the nature of relationships in a world turned cold, etc.) and the less interesting, predictable instances (long-held camera shots of Librium, the city, and the seemingly endless march of its hypnotized citizenry). Photographed in dark hues, some of the images symbolizing emotional discovery -- a rainbow over the dark city, the smile of Preston's young son, the glimmer of a puppies eyes -- are almost swallowed whole by the film. The resonant as best the can in a world meant for robots.
All in all, EQUILIBRIUM is not a bad film, even measured as derivative of some of the finer films mentioned above. The pacing is a bit uneven, but Bale manages to keep the viewer's interest. The texture is overwhelming, but the constant search for hints of emotion on John Preston's face lift the story above the ordinary. What's frustrating is the film it could have been ... had it found better balance.
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on May 17, 2003
The distributor for �Equilibrium�, a modestly budgeted sci-fi thriller, had so little faith in it that it placed the film in just a few theaters in December, then let it die. One reason may be the title itself. In restaurants, some people are afraid to order a dish they can�t pronounce. These same people tend to avoid movies whose titles they can�t spell, pronounce and/or understand. Beyond that, �Equilibrium� was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Two other recent thrillers � �AI: Artificial Intelligence� and �Minority Report� � had already painted much richer and more elaborate portraits of life in the future. Finally, unlike other small sci-fi flicks like �Gattaca�, �Equilibrium� unwisely uses too much energy on special effects and not enough on the story, which might have been interesting if it hadn�t been overwhelmed.
In this vision of the future, a third world war has resulted in a totalitarian society where all material things which cause people to feel emotion have been banned. People are also medicated daily to prevent them from feeling the anger and frustration which the government claims leads to war. Anyone who resists is dealt with immediately and harshly. Large SWAT teams swoop down on groups of resistors every day. In other words, this is a society that is continuously at war with war.
This plot concept, which isn�t wholly original, could have proved fascinating, but it is clumsily handled and full of holes. The highlight is Christian Bale�s carefully orchestrated performance as Cleric John Preston, a high ranking member of the group responsible for enforcing the regime�s draconian measures. Preston, at first a totally unemotional man, ultimately sees the absurdity of his job and becomes a member of the resistance.
While not a noteworthy film, �Equilibrium� should provide many sci-fi fans with an enjoyable evening. It certainly isn�t the worst movie of it type, but it could have been so much more.
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on May 17, 2003
EQUILIBRIUM is a difficult movie to review. Although this film is a really good b-movie, with some nifty (if not borderline silly) action sequences and great concepts, there are plot holes-a-rama. I can't help but like CHRISTIAN BALE whose movie status is becoming that of zen guru of the smaller sci-fi/horror genre of well made b-flicks, and here he shines as usual. The entire idea of the Gramaton Cleric is pretty cool, and is executed in some inventive set peices that are remiders of THE MATRIX as much as they are not. I think this film stands on its own being just different enough to be original. The production design was good as well, usually movies with a smaller budget and advertising campaign end up looking like they were filmed on a soap set. The director helps us view an antiseptic world as void of emotions as the characters within. Enjoyable at face value; don't even try to bring up realistic implications about the storyline because there are so many lapses in logic. TAYE DIGGS' character displays a wide range of emotions throughout the picture and he's suppose to be emotionless. From minute one he wants BALE's job, is not that jealousy? Well he does lose some face eventually. This is one movie where style totally reigns over substance but somehow both intertwine to create a pretty decent film with cool gunplay and something to think about a least a few hours after the credits roll.
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on May 11, 2003
I read all the underground buzz about this film being a neglected scifi film that was excellent. I remember such films as Dark City and Donnie Darko receiving the same acclaim and to that I decided why not discover another unknown film to add to my collection and spread the good news about to others. Maybe I was a bit too hyped over it, maybe I expected more gun fights, or maybe it was the all too similar aspects between this and the Matrix that leads me to say it may not be all it's hyped up to be.
The action IS really cool but don't expect alot of it, I did enjoy that it wasn't all karate like most action films today, it reminded me of the gun totin days of Chow Yun Fat in such films as Hard Boiled and The Killer. It certainly follows the Matrix formula. Philosophy + Action + SciFi = ??? Well I don't know what it comes out too, it certainly takes after such books as Brave New World and Farenheit 451. At times it works but with such scenes as the puppy scene you wonder if their trying too hard to make us understand what it is to FEEL.
The acting was decent although inconsistent. If the Cleric (and everyone else) do not know emotion. How come Tay Diggs grins through out the whole movie, I wanted to slap him and say "Hey your not supposed to feel emotion dummy stop smiling!" Last time I checked, anger, wit, and suspsicion, are all EMOTIONS. The acting is not at all consistent with the idea of having no emotion. Even the villian shows anger, which again, is an emotion. Maybe their was too much Dashboard Confessional played on the set, who knows. Those little things did bother me but if you ignore them than the few moments of genius matched with the few and far between action sequences (which are very cool) than you have a decent movie that in no way matches the wit of Donnie Darko, or the gothic atmospher of Dark City, and let's face it steals alot of it's look from every scifi movie ever made.
A noteworthy mention is a really great audio commentary by Director Kurt Wimmer. He honestly and boldly confronts all the criticism he's heard about the movie and even admits to many of the mistakes he made in the film. He addresses alot of my concerns with the logic of the no emotion thing and after hearing his explanation for them they don't seem to bother me as much (Tay diggs smiling, the villian gettin angry). It's a great commentary for would-be film makers because he focuses on his first time directing and the techniques he used. It's one of the most earnest and humbling commentaries I've heard in awhile and it's definetly worth hearing. (Unlike most directors who seem full of themselves)
It's worth watching at least once, but don't go in expecting to "Forget the Matrix" as the cover suggests. It's decent SciFi and I will enjoy it on repeat viewings despite it's flaws.
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on April 19, 2003
Equilibrium is basically a hash of famous orwellian inspired movies and books. Yet it falls short of any of those famous works.
In the future people are mandated to take drugs that supress emotions. In this emotionless society, most crimes are eliminated, however, rebels exist underground, as there were rebels in Farenheit 451.
To enforce all the rules of law there is a small group of gun totting Ninja policemen called 'Clerics'. Christian Bale happens to be the best Cleric there is. His acting performance is probably the best amongst the cast, which is not saying much. Although he certainly does do a respectable job with what he was given.
Even those who are willing to forgive this movie of its numerous flaws, like me, may not be able to the ensuing laughter that occurs after the cheesy scenes.
One scene is where Christian Bale realizes that there is something wrong with the society he lives in when the clerics try to kill a group of puppies. Puppies? Trust me it was as silly as it sounds.
Asides from that another flaw was simply that many of the characters would oddly display emotions at times. Even though they were supposedly on drugs.
The action scenes on the other hand were what made this film. Some of the kung fu was truly incredible. However, it was also problematic. In the Matrix it was explained how they could fight in such a manner, however, in this film ppl are fight similarly for no good reason. It just seems odd.
Equilibrium just ends up being a run of the mill Sci Fi flick with good special effects. Definetly not even close to the great Sci Fi films ( not matrix ), such as 2001, Bladerunner, and Gattacca.
Asides from all the problems, the action is definetly a huge saving grace. Has you have probably heard it does feature some amazing fight scenes, however, the were quite short and not enough. Bale also does a good job, and along with his acting, the score, there is moodiness to the film too. In the end I ended up getting the DVD, just because of the mindless fun.
Aslong as you know to expect self indulgent mindless actioner, you might be pleasantly surprised.
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on June 4, 2003
Sure the visuals, scenes, mood, and action were very good, but I could never get past the obvious flaws to the underlying premise.
The underlying theme of the movie is that people are animals and that we will kill each other if allowed to express feelings (even a tear could get you killed). How this fascist government came to power and how/why the people let it is unexplained. It is just not plausible.
Although the action scenes were fun to watch they were also unrealistic to the extreme. How an action hero (John Preston) can stand in the middle of a room, surrounded by 20 men armed with automatic weapons, and gun them down with 2 pistols - all without moving is beyond comprehension. C'mon, even Neo has to move around.
The movie is fun, but had a real problem suspending my disbelief.
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on March 5, 2014
This review is for the Steelbook Edition. I love Equilibrium and have multiple copies of the film on blu ray and DVD. I only purchased this because of the collectible steelbook packaging. However, the item was poorly shipped in a bubble wrap envelope which hardly provides any protection for this kind of item. Needless to say, the steelbook arrived dented on the front and back.
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on March 14, 2015
It's an allright movie, if you can get past the b-grade acting and the obvious BS of the gun kata, it's got interesting elements of a dystopian universe.
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on June 4, 2003
The action sequences were very entertaining. Otherwise, the movie could be pulled apart if you wanted to get into the theory of it.
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on June 22, 2015
Not high on my science fiction list.
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