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Tuesday, May 27, 2003
 Movie Review: Equilibrium    [L]

Best movie nobody's ever heard of: Equilibrium

Ok, time to get in the review swing of things.
Overall : 4.5/5 ChuMarks (not an average)
Performances : 5/5
Action : 5/5
Romance : 2/5
Technical : 3.5/5
Story : 4/5

In the near-future, the higher aspects of human emotion (love, hate, etc.) have been determined to be the cause of war, violence, etc. So the government goes about and finds a way to chemically eliminate all feelings - resulting in a peaceful, yet zombified populace. In addition to mandating that everybody take doses of this drug (Prozium), the government also outlaws anything that might cause emotion - such as art, music, poetry, books, silk even. Naturally, not everybody is keen on this plan, and there is resistance... which brings us to the main character, John Preston. Preston is a member of the elite police called the Grammaton Cleric. Basically, he's a one man, two-handed, gun-toting killing machine. His job is to hunt down and eliminate all resistance... and he does it with no emotion. But one day he accidentally misses his dose... and he starts to have a new view on things.

Christian Bale does a great job of playing an emotionless killing machine for the first half of the movie. Unlike Keanu Reeves, whose emotions range from zero to nil, Christian pulls a believable transformation from an emotionless killer to ... well, a repressed rage killer (but for a cause!). Taye Diggs also does a great job as cocky partner looking for a career-boost.

If you like guns, this movies got you covered. Unlike the Matrix movies, which seem to be an either/or deal when it comes to guns and kung fu, Equilibrium introduces the concept of "gun-kata". Basically, it's a mish-mash of different fighting styles that concentrate on using the guns as an extension of the body - using statistical analysis to come up with moves that allow you to dodge bullets, and return fire with maximum effect. Undoubtedly, this movie will be compared with the Matrix, but it really does stand on its own as far as innovation. The action sequences are pretty spectacular and sensational - the first time I saw some of the scenes my jaw just dropped and I had to rewind it and see it again. The fight scenes are so well choreographed that you can't help but be amazed, and the whole sequence just drips style.

Luckily, there's not too much romance getting in the way of the movie, but it does serve nicely to explain motivations and to drive the story along. I'm not against romance per se, but a heavy romantic aspect in this movie would have been very out of place. Equilibrium does well in using it sparsely.

The movie is very stylish and cohesive - you see several repeating motifs and shapes, and the styling is consistent throughout the movie. It's a good sign of a controlled director and creative team when you don't see any anachronisms or anything that seems out of place. The movie looks great, good cinematography, great lighting/ambiance, and the special effects are unobstrusive and don't break the realism. The sound track is also of quality, always bolstering the movie in the right spots and never distracting.

What a great concept - the only thing I can think to compare it to is Gattaca. Some other comparisons have also been drawn to 1984, Farenheit 451, Brave New World, but unfortunately, I have not read any of these, so I can't elaborate - but my interests have definately been piqued by what I've heard. The story itself isn't completely original (but then again what stories are?) but it's done in such a different and stylish way that it seems to be a whole new thing.

If you're an action fan, go see this movie.
If you like bleak futuristic stories, go see this movie.
If you like to see Christian Bale with his shirt off, go see this movie.