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on June 2, 2003
Christian Bale, perhaps one of the most overlooked talents in Hollywood today, delivers his best performance yet. As John Preston, the most esteemed "Cleric," a police-like figure whose responsibility it is to hunt down and kill those reisistance fighters who still cling to human emotion and collect relics of human culture in post-World War 3 civilization, Preston belongs to a government which firmly believes that it is our own emitions which threaten to destroy mankind. The logical conclusion is to shut these emotions out, which is acomplished through the administration of a special drug.

I don't want to summarize the plot for you, but being an employee at a major video rental chain, I see a lot of crap. And this movie had the potential to join that crap in the stinking, steaming pile of garbage movies that are produced each year without fail. But something about this picture is different. Anyone who dismisses the blending of martial arts and gunfighting as ridiculous is obviously not a true fan of the genre, since they accept such equally preposterous concepts such as harnessing the powers of three psychic siblings to tell the future of crime before it is comitted in other similar films (not naming any names).
What we have here is a mix of Orwell's 1984 and Bradbury's Farenheit 451, with some Blade Runner and yes, I'm proud to admit, some Matrix-esque slickness thrown in for good measure. The result is pure energy, a film which oozes cool without overtly trying to do so. Hell, even Taye Diggs manages a convincing performance. For that alone this film deserves my rating.
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on June 6, 2003
The Gun-kata in this movie is unbelievable. A very creative piece of imagination I must admit. Bale as Preston character does a good job, and also pulls off the action sequences really well. It could have been so much better if they could have used Sean Bean more in the movie. The costumes and the environments also give the audience a good feel of the cold atmosphere surrounding the new world.
One last word must go to the ending sequence. The ending sequence of this movie was unbelievable. I would say that one would easily be among the best action sequences together with Blade's opening sequence, and The Matrix's scene where Neo and Trinity take on the entire swat team in a hall. I wish it would have been longer.
For sci-fi and action fans, I strongly recommend this movie.
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on May 5, 2013
Un film inoubliable par la qualité de son scénario, par la qualité de l'image (superbe), par la qualité du son (superbe), une musique qui colle si bien à toutes les situations qu'elle accompagne tout naturellement les mouvements, les non-dits et les sentiments, par les couleurs sombres, par les décors coupés au carré, dans un futur noir où règne une dictature stalinienne qui interdit les sentiments, les livres, l'art et tout ce qui peut provoquer l'émotion qui a été déclaré "offense" un crime puni de mort. Ça fait froid dans le dos. Effrayant mais en même temps romantique à souhait, dans une sorte de désespérance puis d'espoir, ce qui nous fait oublier la grande violence de certaines scènes.
Christian Bale nous fait là une époustouflante démonstration de son talent, il est prodigieux.
Les scènes de combat sont remarquablement menées de main de maître, avec la précision d'une horlogerie suisse, et le suspense est au rendez-vous. A acheter quand on aime la science-fiction et l'évasion dans le futur et dans un monde virtuel, qui reste malgré tout, profondément humain.
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on June 20, 2003
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 June 3, 2003
Don't "Forget the Matrix" as the cover says, but don't miss Equilibrium either. The last comparable B Sci-Fi movie was "Imposter".
Plot: In the future, there is no war and everyone takes a drug to quell their feelings, so everyone lives in a nice orderly society. Stopping your dosage or possessing banned items warrants execution. There is an underground that fights, occasionally blowing up a pharmacuetical facility and our main character gets involved with taking on the society's high cabal. So it's kind of a cross between the movie "1984" and a B version of the Matrix (it is loosely comparable). There could have been more done with Equilibrium than this, but it's a good movie. The fight scenes are cool and at times the acting was very well done, especially on Bale's part. The same rigidity that flowed for the character of "American Psycho" comes back with this non-feeling enforcer who finds humanity and realizes he is a mass-murderer. The story is somewhat empty in that, it's difficult to believe that a whole society could be so brainwashed as to be totally drugged, obedient and willing in the first place to implement such measures, but on the otherhand if I look around these days...
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on May 18, 2003
I was one of the lucky few who saw this in the theater and enjoyed every minute. One thing that becomes quite obvious early in the film, except to maybe the most dull of movie watchers, is that this film is not to be taken literally. The story unfolds as a parable where a fascist society controls the masses under the guise of society's best interest.
All of the performances carry the futuristic fairy tale through its motions in a fresh if not original narrative down to the final battle.
My only problems with this film are the people who are marketing it and the people who are watching it. The creators of the Matrix wisely recruited the veteran talent of Yuen Woo Ping for fights and stunts. I love his work in the dozen and a half movies I've seen that showcase his it. But NOTHING done in the Matrix with respect to fight choreography is new and has been done better by Jet Li and Donnie Yen. Equilibrium offers not only an original looking choreography but there is a reason to it aside from looking cool because you can. Neat fight scenes and a dark future are the only things this movie and The Matrix have in common so to all those professional and amateur movie reviewers alike, please stop illustrating your narrow knowledge of film by continuing to compare every dark future film to The Matrix, you might as well be comparing all these films to Johnny Pneumonic.
See this film, expect a fun parable and enjoy yourself. If you still don't get it, then give it another chance with the commentary on.
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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 16, 2003
Okay, the first thing I want to say right up front is that �Equilibrium� is NOT some sad, skanky, �Matrix� knock-off. There�s no �Bullet Time,� no �Blue Pills� or �Red Pills,� no �Agent Smith,� no �Morpheus,� no �Neo,� no future-shocked Virtual Reality environment, and � sadly! � no �Trinity,� in full sprayed-on-PVC-fetish-gear mode! That the film is being promoted with the following blurb on the case, �Forget the Matrix!� does, I think, the film a HUGE disservice.
Mind you, there ARE some similarities between the two; both films are set in the future, lots of people wear really cool black outfits, the good guys and the bad guys fight each other using martial arts, and there are, �Guns. Lots of guns!� That�s it. So PLEASE don�t pick this up expecting a �Matrix� clone, and you�ll give yourself a fighting chance of enjoying it on its own terms.
�Equilibrium� is a Sci Fi film, just as �BladeRunner,� �1984,� �Soylent Green,� and especially, �Fahrenheit 451,� are Sci Fi films, in as much as the Sci Fi elements are but a framework within which the filmmakers explore the Human Condition. �Equilibrium� is set in a dystopian far future society, after the Third World War. A prologue sets the scene; to save Mankind, to prevent a Fourth World War, a war the species couldn�t possibly survive, the decision is made, by a �Big Brother� type world dictatorship, to tackle what it considers the root cause of Mans problems� his emotions.
In this Brave New World of �Libria,� the population is regimented in the extreme, endlessly watching and listening to sermons from �Father,� in which he explains to them the horrors that have been caused by feelings and emotions. Every man, woman and child takes an emotion suppressing drug called �Prozium.� The ultimate crime in this society is a �Sense Offence,� in which the perpetrator stops taking their Prozium shots and allows their senses to resurface and explore the world around them; a painting, a piece of sculpture, a music recording, a scent. Everything that can possibly register an emotional response in the population has been savagely suppressed, works of art, literature, music, even pets; this is a drab, dull, gray, emotionally barren world.
But human nature is still a force to be reckoned with, even in Libria, and there is an underground of malcontents, people who refuse to take their Prozium and live in a world rich in feelings and emotions. As far as Father is concerned, these are dangerous subversives that society cannot tolerate, and to combat them the State has created an elite corps of hunter/killer police, the �Clerics.� The elite of the elite is a Cleric named �Preston,� played by Christian Bale; cold and emotionless, Preston is like a Vulcan, but without their well-developed sense of humor! He carries out his duties for the State with clinical precision, disposing of both people and offending artifacts with complete equanimity. He is also a Master in the futuristic martial arts technique of �Gun-Kata,� in which all the Clerics are trained.
And it�s �Gun-Kata� that gives the film its spectacular action sequences. Just as in the ancient martial art of Kendo, �The Way of the Sword,� the sword becomes an extension of the practitioner�s body, in �Gun-Kata� the guns the Clerics use - and even the rounds they fire! � become an extension of the Cleric himself. This is spectacularly showcased in a number of superbly choreographed fight sequences� I can safely say that you�ll not have seen anything like this before!
But this is NOT just a mindless actioner dressed up in Sci Fi trappings. The film has a heart and a soul, and it�s the journey that Preston embarks upon when he accidentally misses one of his Prozium shots, his discovery of his own humanity, that is the core of this film. We watch as slowly but surely Preston wakes from his self-medicated emotional stupor. We see him as he really �hears� - for the first time - a piece of classical music, reads a book of poetry, feels the softness of a piece of silk, breathes in the scent of a long forgotten perfume, and experiences the emotional rush of a perfect sunrise. We also experience with him his abject horror, when he realizes what he, and the rest of the world, including his own two children, have been denied� the opportunity to be truly human.
As the film progresses, and as Preston�s emotions return, he is charged by Father to discover, and destroy, the resistance. Where will his allegiance lie, with the State, which has given him all that he has, and has made him all that he is, or with the Sense Offenders he has dedicated his life to eradicating?
Completely mishandled by the studio upon its release - I think it was shown on a couple of screens in Milwaukee one weekend! - this is intelligent Sci Fi on a human scale, in the grand tradition of �BladeRunner,� �1984,� �Soylent Green,� and �Fahrenheit 451.� As long as you don�t expect �Matrix� style pyrotechnics, there�s a great deal to be enjoyed in this film; a solid story, good performances, especially from Bale, excellent and well choreographed action scenes, and a satisfying ending. Go ahead, check it out, I�m sure you won�t be disappointed.
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on June 6, 2003
Forget The Matrix, the action scenes in this movie (done with no wires, bullet time or slow motion) absolutely blows everything else away.
This movie demonstrates how to blend martial arts and gun fighting perfectly.
The story is good, but its the fight scenes (which unfortunately only take up maybe 15 mins of the whole movie) that makes it so great.
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on May 17, 2003
I can't understand the critics lambasting this movie - the whole vision of it totally blew me away. It reminded me of the first time I went to see "Blade Runner" and the critics, at the time, mocked that picture too. Well, phooey to them and rent the thing. I mean it!!!
The cinematography is outstanding. I found the story pretty original and the action scenes kick .... Wimmer stresses and stresses and stresses ;o) how much he couldn't accomplish on a tight budget and timeframe - well, that's a bunch of c.... The whole feel of this thing is superb and outstanding. Geezus, he did a fantastic job. Kudos to Christian Bale and Emily Watson and the rest of the cast. Yes - the subject matter has been done before but Wimmer had the sense to add his own style to the whole piece. I loved this movie!!!
It moved me not only as a dog lover ;o) but as a human being. Geezus. It is not "Minority Report" which I did not enjoy at all.
See this movie! Please?!
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