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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 33.98%
Just Average: 11.65%
Pretty Crappy: 9.71%
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5 reviews, 73 user ratings

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by Rob Gonsalves

"Underseen, well-crafted exercise in style and substance."
4 stars

Pilfered though it is from many superior (and not-so-superior) sources, 'Equilibrium' has a lot more to offer than you'd expect.

Dimension Films (the genre branch of Miramax) sat on it for over a year before finally dumping it into a paltry 301 screens in a December death slot against the big year-end films (i.e., The Two Towers and its like). It didn't even get a chance to make back its relatively low $20 million budget -- it grossed just over $1 million before disappearing from theaters in three weeks. The movie deserves far better. Equilibrium is not the most original movie to come down the pike -- it's indebted to your choice of dystopian science fiction (1984, Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, The Matrix, Gattaca) -- but it's a sleek and forceful film of its kind, with some of the most eye-boggling gunfight scenes in recent memory. They're not even gunfights -- they're more like systematic gun massacres, begun and finished in an eyeblink, with shooter and targets close enough to kiss.

John Preston (Christian Bale), a "Grammaton Cleric" (i.e., assassin for the government), does far more shooting than kissing. John is one of the black-clad enforcers of the new world order: in the post-WWIII fascist state of Libria, it has been determined that war and violence can be blamed solely on emotion, so all emotions have been outlawed. Scruffy bands of resistance fighters, who have refused to take their daily dose of the emotion-killing drug Prozium, gather together to appreciate art, music, film -- contraband works of beauty (which are illegal because they inspire feeling). John is a complete moral and emotional blank, which means he's the best at his job, and his two children, raised (like him) on a steady diet of Prozium, are likewise empty. John was married once, but his wife became a "sense offender," rebelling against the emotionless world, and was summarily executed while John stood nearby, not bothered in the slightest.

Such a man could never carry a movie if there weren't a change of heart -- or, in John's case, an introduction of heart -- in store for him. Christian Bale plays the early scenes almost as a sequel to his dead-zone Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, as if Bateman had finally found his niche as a callous destroyer in the bleak world of Libria and was handed a badge and a gun. But little by little, emotion invades his shell. His partner Partridge (Sean Bean) succumbs to the poetry of Yeats; John neutrally pulls Partridge's plug, but with the tiniest flicker of doubt ("I'll do what I can to see that they go easy on you," he says, an odd sentiment for someone supposedly without sentiment). Later, John drops one of his Prozium capsules, but instead of getting a replacement, he begins to have feelings. Some viewers may complain that John, conveniently for the plot, has an emotionally tough day ahead of him the same morning he goes Prozium-free; but he may have had many days just like it while cushioned from the emotional drain.

Writer-director Kurt Wimmer gives us the same future-noir premise that served Steven Spielberg well in Minority Report -- in both, a seasoned and skilled cog in the machine is content to work unquestioningly within the system, until the system turns on him. With a dash of wit, Wimmer even gives John a cute puppy to contend with, not to mention Emily Watson (in what amounts to an extended cameo) as Mary, a "sense offender" whose Beethoven record touches John's underused soul, just like Alex in A Clockwork Orange. Fortunately, there's no strained romance in the works for John and Mary, just the smallest tremors of suppressed attraction (mostly his for her), and in any event her character serves chiefly as the doorway to the larger resistance movement, led by William Fichtner as a man who can feel, but has chosen not to allow himself to.

Lots of ideas bounce around in this paranoid fantasy, and lots of implausibilities, too. (Wouldn't John and his fellow Clerics be subjected to regular blood or urine tests to be sure they're on their Prozium? Wouldn't there be a more high-tech way of sniffing out emotion than a polygraph test, which can be faked out?) But Equilibrium is still an engaging ride, with some quicksilver moves in store for the climax, including a swordfight between John and suspicious new partner Taye Diggs, and a swirling ballet of gunplay between John and Libria higher-up Angus MacFadyen.

Many praised 'The Matrix' for combining deep-dish philosophy and kick-ass anime style, but it's the underseen 'Equilibrium' that really delivers the goods.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6437&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/12/07 16:46:09
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User Comments

3/08/19 Dr.Lao The grim tone does not work well with the incredibly silly fight scenes 2 stars
9/02/14 Dude Stupid, pretentious crap 1 stars
9/19/12 austin stupid 1 stars
4/21/11 man total crap 1 stars
3/18/10 yo dude love this film. kicks ass in so many unconventional ways. Bale is perfect in the role 5 stars
8/01/09 r0b it could be worst 2 stars
9/08/08 Andy W Exellent movie, have hooked several friends on it. 5 stars
9/06/08 Halad65 Awesome! XD XD 5 stars
6/21/08 David V Lame rip-off of the The Matrix among other science fiction movies. 2 stars
3/19/08 Dunecat Extremely underrated movie, on par with The Matrix 4 stars
9/07/07 some random hobo this is simply a very good, smart movie and the fight scenes are unprecedented. 5 stars
7/08/07 Jubei It's 1984 with martial arts.Should've focused more on Bale's discovery of emotions. 4 stars
7/06/07 T A compelling homage - the mainstream critics missed the boat on this one. 5 stars
2/09/07 K. Sear It has a pretty weak plot but it was fun. 4 stars
12/21/06 Colin Smart Indiscriminate killings is never justificed 3 stars
12/14/06 Tony rottentomatoes.com lost its credibility by rating this movie very low, they suck! 5 stars
11/09/06 Jason Fantastic..not a rip off of the matrix, new idea 5 stars
9/08/06 Jiz Had a couple "that was stupid" moments but for the most part was excellent. 5 stars
6/19/06 Herbert GREAT!! 5 stars
6/02/06 tatum Great action and story, better than Matrix sequels 5 stars
4/13/06 gfh a fine film about the dangers of too much control 4 stars
4/12/06 Not Brain Dead Only a moron would think this was a rip-off of The Matrix. See a few movies, then write 3 stars
2/18/06 VC amzing 5 stars
12/31/05 Quigley this film really makes you think about humanity. Bale, the plot and the fights were awesome 5 stars
8/29/05 ES Acting is strained at best, the concept a bit unbelievable & the action merely ok 3 stars
7/06/05 ACTION MOVIE JUNKIE decent action film watch it at least once 4 stars
4/20/05 Dan the gunplay seems realistic and feels as if someone could really be trained to be that good 4 stars
12/12/04 Vince A good sci fi flick with brains, atmosphere and action 4 stars
11/23/04 James Battle good film, lacked in the accessory department 4 stars
10/08/04 Will Dontex Cool gun fights-almost more realistic than the Matrix, plot sucks but great action! 4 stars
10/03/04 malcolm Fahrenheit 451 + 1984 with dope and martial arts. i can't wait to see Bale as Bruce Wayne. 5 stars
9/27/04 The Cleric Masterpiece of action. Great performance from Bale. A must-see 5 stars
9/20/04 Samuel Haase A most excellent and entertaing film, better then any of the MAtrixs 5 stars
9/09/04 Stanley Dorvil Teaches you what you really are. 5 stars
7/26/04 lucas great borrows from a ton but makes it mesh well 5 stars
7/07/04 Daveman Kinda entertaining but there is just too much heavy-handed sci-fi and unintentional humour. 2 stars
6/01/04 John Poo\'s "Arse/Off" I AGREE 'Glen' !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
5/23/04 Glen Interesting premise. Great action scenes make it a must! Especially the final fight 5 stars
5/17/04 Anne Great movie. Many people who do not like it seem not to get the underlying theme throughout 5 stars
5/12/04  Shaun Rose Very underated film, Gun and fight scenes are cool 4 stars
4/30/04 Jack Sommersby Action is OK, but the character scenes are the ones that are more involving. 4 stars
4/18/04 P.Rodriguez Has the action scenes I love; short & sweet. None of that Vam Damme crap thank u very much 5 stars
3/21/04 BlackTerror Not great, but good. You can hardly tell this was a low-budget movie. 4 stars
12/07/03 Sammy The Gun battle are second to none and the fights are short but sweet. 5 stars
11/08/03 Sphelx Excellent, it did everything the Matrix didn't, the Gun Kata was unbelieveably good. 5 stars
10/14/03 Rlamb A big suprise 4 stars
9/30/03 Obi Wan Why didn't anyone tell me about this? Completely new fight choreography!! 5 stars
9/29/03 Bob Hoskins Worth a watch for the action sequences alone 4 stars
9/19/03 Jinnvisible like orwells `1984` with comedy cute puppy scene + matrix FX great for the under 12`s 3 stars
9/09/03 Doc Shock Farenheit 451 + Matrix + THX1138 = Equilibrium. Good flick! 4 stars
8/02/03 awn Like Fahrenheit 451, only with MUCH more action. A truly amazing movie over all. 5 stars
7/28/03 Boomer WOW!!! I've never scene any choreography like this. Fight-scene are new and fresh!! 5 stars
7/17/03 Dead Ringers FX Rule! A pleasant surprise. A beautiful drama and action sci fi film all in one. 5 stars
7/15/03 Gremlin Cool movie. Kick ass action scenes. 5 stars
6/26/03 Ingo Seen it all before... 3 stars
6/17/03 Dude Not bad 3 stars
6/15/03 kristof most overlooked movie of the year 5 stars
6/15/03 Jerry Forget the matrix! this movie is better! 5 stars
6/11/03 FLiK Its a Matrix without the prophecy-this-prophecy-that-plot. Still one of my favorites... 5 stars
6/07/03 Satan This rocked harder than "the matrix reloaded" 5 stars
5/30/03 Jack Sommersby Its character moments actually outshine the overdone action ones. 4 stars
5/23/03 Chris Better than the matrix: reloaded 5 stars
5/16/03 Eric Best gun battles ever, this is better than both Matrix films. 5 stars
5/16/03 INCUBATOR Way better then the 2nd Matrix, Ray Bredbery forever! 5 stars
2/01/03 Allan Jones Nice!!! 5 stars
1/28/03 x-cal I WANT THIS ON FRICKIN DVD NOW!!! 5 stars
1/08/03 Myztiq totally worth it. makes you think and action is sweet! 5 stars
12/09/02 Killboy Does things with guns like Japanese chefs to with spatulas. Action is scarce, but unGODly. 5 stars
12/08/02 Phil Reese Matrix in inspiration, perhaps, but not in execution: see it and you won't be disappointed 5 stars
12/08/02 Zor Good if you like post apoctalyptic totalitarian moves. 5 stars
12/08/02 Conner Do not under any circumstances see it. There is not a single redeeming feature. 1 stars
12/06/02 Butterbean Not as bad as the plot suggests it would be. I enjoyed it. 4 stars
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  06-Dec-2002 (R)
  DVD: 19-Apr-2011



Directed by
  Kurt Wimmer

Written by
  Kurt Wimmer

  Christian Bale
  Sean Bean
  Taye Diggs
  William Fichtner
  Angus MacFadyen
  Emily Watson

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