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40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real Sleeper!
I've never heard of this movie before until I accidentally read someone's review on another movie. He was wondering why movies like Equilibrium did not get any attention which it deserved. I could not resist my curiosity and thus I rented it right away. What a pleasant surprise! Even if the cover looked like a typical B-class movie, the movie itself was a real deal...
Published on Feb. 8 2004 by Mantaray

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3.0 out of 5 stars A Silly Little Case of Deja Vu
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...
Published on June 20 2003 by E. Lee Zimmerman


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4.0 out of 5 stars don't miss it, 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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5.0 out of 5 stars Stop comparing this to the Matrix!, May 18 2003
By 
D. Psaros (California) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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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3.0 out of 5 stars Style over substance mars this particular sci-fi film, May 17 2003
By 
Matthew Horner (USA) - See all my reviews
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Equilibrium Will Leave You "Feeling" More Than Equal, May 17 2003
By A Customer
I think Miramax Films really blew it when they did not market or promote this film as it diserved to be. Christian Bale does not outperform his role in American Psycho (like he ever will) but does carry the film well along with the rest of the casts performances. Kurt Wimmer's script is well written, directed and executed. I especially enjoyed watching it a third time with the Directors Commentary option. It provided me with an in depth look into Kurt Wimmer's thought process and passion while filming. I also enjoyed the fact that he doesn't take him self too seriously while he elaborates on his technical mistakes and "how he would had filmed it if he had a larger budget and more time". A true "lowbrow" director. It is a MUST USED option for all film auteurs and wanna be film directors. I learned a lot from his input. He also inspired me to take up Japanese Sword Fighting. I was very impressed by the technical and historical accuracy that was put into the sword play. A MUST SEE.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Clerical debate., May 17 2003
By 
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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5.0 out of 5 stars OWN THIS MOVIE!!!, May 16 2003
By 
Ken Lowe (Rahway, New Jersey United States) - See all my reviews
This movie is about as exisential as Bladerunner & A.I. and has all the mindscrew of Minority Report. Fantastic displays of hyper-kinetic gun-kata and the uber-cool visual combos of Bladerunner, The Fifth Element, & Metropolis aside, this movies delves into an area sci-fi doesn't go that much into anymore...psychology. Can we find the line of behavior to save ourselves from our most basic emotions without giving up what makes us human? And what are the prices of the extremes on either end of the spectrum? It shows how cold, lonely, bleak, & empty absoute emotional isolation & control can be, and how the world looks & feels as you experience it without inhibitors for the first time. This film in some cases does exceed the first Matrix movie, but keep in mind these are two TOTALLY different animals. My only complaints are (1) I never saw this on the big screen. (2) There's no trailer, or DTS format on the DVD. Aside from that, Equilibium is an absolute, thought provoking gem of a keeper. ...and considering that all the major retail outlets in my area can't keep the dvd on the shelves for more than two days, says it all.
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5.0 out of 5 stars NOT a Matrix knock-off!, May 16 2003
By 
Paul Fogarty "Hopeless film addict!" (LA, United States) - See all my reviews
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Bang for the Buck!, May 16 2003
By 
Ryan Merrill (Pordenone, Italia) - See all my reviews
I am exhausted of blatant Matrix-style plagiarism. So, when I saw Equilibrium on the shelf and saw the gritty, black-on-black dressed actors scowling at me from under the plastic wrap, I was on my way out of the shop. A fellow consumer heard me scoff at the movie and suggested that I buy it and then judge for myself. He was right.
Equilibrium takes you to a post WW3 world where all the inhabitants of "Libria" (very much resembling a rebuilt NYC) are taking a drug to numb their ability to feel. The human qualities of sense and emotion are what allegedly caused the third World War, and consequently the requirement for a sedated populace. To counter the threat of rebels refusing the drug and enjoying the innocuous libations of music, art, and film, the governing body (Father) has created an elite task force to punish the guilty. This is done via two teams; the all-purpose foot soldiers dressed in class III armor and sporting high-end Austrian/German assault rifles, and Clerics. Clerics are the most revolutionary characters in an action movie to date. Clinically unattached to their fellow human beings, they can infiltrate a room full of armed criminals, and dispatch them with automatic Beretta pistols.
What can I say about the action? It's like nothing you've ever seen. There's no bullet time. No Yuen wo Ping coordinating wire-fu. No idiotic diatribes involving obligatory philosophy, and certainly no Keanu-come-lately pondering whether or not he is the one. This movie shares no modicum with Wachowski storytelling or Gaeta vision. It's plausible that some technology was incorporated to garner the visuals, but this movie is quite original in it's implementation of those tools.
Can I tell you that I loved this movie? Yes, and I think of myself as a very critical, jaded movie guy. I've come to expect a better usage of the technology given movie makers since 1999, and I can tell you honestly that I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It does start with a crash and a bang, but the faithful watcher will be rewarded with a refreshing concept and awesome action.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must see for anyone who enjoys sci-fi action., May 15 2003
P>Equilibrium features a terrific premise: the film is set sometime after WWIII (the year is unspecified) in a city called Libria, which is headed by a man called "Father" (Sean Pertwee), who only appears to the citizens via hologram. All citizens are required to take a daily dose of prozium, a drug that dulls the emotions, which is what's believed to be the source of man's inhumanity to man. To ensure people continue their dosage, examples are made by law enforcers called clerics. These clerics are warrirors trained in a unique style called gun-kata, which teaches the fighter to stand in the position where they're least likely to be hit by enemy fire and to use a gun as an extension of the fighter itself. In the opening scene, we see how such a concept works.
But similar to Logan's Run, our hero, cleric John Preston (Christian Bale), comes through an awakening when he misses his dose. He experiences emotions for the first time and finds himself conflicted with everything he'd believed in and fought for and what he now believes is the right thing to do. He wants to contact and join the rebel forces against "Father," but finds this isn't an easy task, especially with his new partner, Brandt (Taye Diggs), watching his every move and a massive army backing "Father."
Equilibrium is a film that can be viewed as thought-provoking entertainment. Writer/director Kurt Wimmer conveys this emotionless world with great attention to minute details (I never noticed the cars were entirely white, even inside, until my second viewing), incredible sets and production values that display the sterile feel of the environment. Whoever constructed the sets should be applauded, especially considering the modest budget the film had to work with. The look and feel of this city, along with Preston's erupting emotions, are nicely backed by Klaus Badelt's brooding score.
Simultaneously, the film has an utterly fabulous story, engrossing in its ability to convince you of this terrifying future and take you along for the ride beside our protagonist. Are there plot holes? Yes, but none that couldn't be reasonably explained, which means they're closer to being contrivances. For instance, the soldiers Preston face obviously display some fear, but I think prozium is only a suppressant; it doesn't completely rid the person of emotions. Plus, when someone has a shotgun pointed straight at his face, it'd be pretty difficult not to show some concern.
Much of what makes Equilibrium's story so suspenseful is it's unpredictability; Wimmer is so skillful in his delivery that it isn't until the conclusion we figure out the surprises and it's revealed who truly has the upper hand in this constantly twisting plot (possible spoiler: I will say this, I am quite glad the villains didn't turn out as dumb as they may have initially seemed).
Equilibrium's future claim to fame will be the gun-kata sequences, which are, for lack of a better word, breathtaking. There are other terms I could use; innovative, exhilarating, exciting, thrilling, heart-pounding, but I think breathtaking most accurately captures the complete surprise and delight I felt while watching the film (on the big screen, no less). There are five sequences that display gun-kata (along with two "ordinary" gun battles, a well-done sparring sequence, and some terrific swordplay), and each setpiece almost always tops the one that came before it in both innovation and excitment. I hesitate to go further, as I feel your enjoyment will be heightened if you don't know exactly how the action plays out (suffice to say the one-on-one jaw-dropping climactic duel is, bar none, the best fight scene I've seen all decade long).
Of course, as with almost all thrillers, action sequence only take up a minor portion of the running time (in this case, about twenty minutes in all, still a hefty amount, with a large portion of that in the climax). So what keeps our attention to the screen isn't just the story, the stylish cinematography and production design, but also the performances. At the center of the story is Christian Bale, an always superb actor who delivers one of his best performances as Preston. This immensely difficult role is made entirely believable and moving by Bale, whose captivating turn ensures we have a rooting interest from beginning to end.
Taye Diggs doesn't get the opportunity to shine nearly as much as Bale, but is solid as Brandt, though his constant smiling has been a source of complaint. (spoiler) By the end of the film, it's still questionable whether or not he was taking prozium. He is Dupont's underling, which suggests he, too, might not have been taking his prozium. Emily Watson is good, though underused, as Mary O'Brien, a woman Preston takes interest in. William Fichtner has an intriguing role as a somewhat mysterious but passionate rebel leader and Angus Mcfadyen is suitably chilling as the head cleric Dupont.
Equilibrium's action sequences have raised the bar for future competition, and not even the just released The Matrix Reloaded can compete (not that their action is similar) with what Wimmer has crafted. But just as important, the movie engages our mind, our emotions, and pulls us through all 107 minutes without a hiccup in pacing or momentum.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Surpasses the Matrix!, May 14 2003
By A Customer
I wanted to see this movie when it was released last winter but it disappeared too quickly. As I recall, it received horrible reviews and was accused of being a Matrix clone. This movie neither deserved the bashing it took nor the insult of comparison to the Matrix. The acting and action sequences in this movie far surpasses the Matrix.
The movie rests on Christian Bale's capable shoulders and he is fantastic. He is like Jane Austin's Mr. Darcy ripped from Emma and inserted into an Orwellian/Huxley sci-fi riff of a story. I felt real sympathy for his character Preston which I never felt for Keanu's Neo. His character undergoes a real journey from drugged out sadist to an emotionally mature man. It was fascinating to watch him discover his own sexuality with Emily Watson's Mary. It is also wonderful to watch him fall in love with his own children and also realizes that he had been terrorizing them.
All the other actors, Sean Bean, Emily Watson, Taye Diggs and Angus MacFadyen are first rate. As far as Diggs' rather happy character, I say pay attention to where he is in the last scene. It more than explains his outbursts.
All the Action choreography is mind blowing. It can more than justify it's own originality. I've never scene another movie apply the Art of the Sword to gun fighting. Not even the Matrix did that. Plus the fighting looks and feels real. It doesn't try to hide the sweat or the strain. The main baddie character makes a point of discussing how the Gun-Kata takes years of study to perfect. Unlike the Matrix which indicates that years of study and exercise can just be downloaded to your brain and Bob's your uncle.
This movie deserves a second chance. I hope it finds an audience on DVD. Hopefully it will justify a Director's edition. Kurt Wimmer is definately a Director worth watching.
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