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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 34.31%
Average: 11.76%
Pretty Bad: 8.82%
Total Crap: 3.92%

5 reviews, 72 user ratings

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by Scott Weinberg

"A slick and tasty science fiction stew."
4 stars

I’d love to know what the folks over at Dimension Pictures are smoking. In 2002 the genre studio bankrolled two damn fine movies, neither of which earned one-third of the marketing and cineplex saturation they deserved.

One was David Twohy’s creepy haunted sub flick Below and the other was Kurt Wimmer’s wholly enjoyable Equilibrium. Now that both films have hit home video, it comes as no surprise to me that movie-fan reaction is overwhelmingly positive. These are two solid genre entries that could have turned some solid coin at the box office… ok, probably not. Movies like these nearly always turn their profits on home video, so maybe the Dimension suits knew what they were doing after all… but still I’m not fully convinced.

Detractors of Equilibrium have taken great pains to catalog all of the science-fiction novels and films by which Wimmer’s flick was clearly inspired. As if sci-fi movies haven’t been feeding off their ancestors for the past 20 years now. Yes, Equilibrium is a barely-veiled pastiche of Brave New World, 1984, The Matrix, Logan’s Run, Farenheit 451 and about a dozen others, but (as Wimmer himself clearly states in his audio commentary) it’s not like the film is denying those influences. Some see a film culled from 18 other sources; I see a sci-fi film written and directed by a man who clearly has a lot of respect for the genre and has used his various inspirations to create a ‘salad bar’ flick that more than capably stands on its own.

It’s the near-future and human emotion has been outlawed. In an ongoing effort to keep humanity’s volatile nature under control, the government offers Librium - a daily-injected serum that smothers emotion. Further, we now have “Grammaton Clerics”, impressive officials whose job it is to seek out and destroy all traces of humanity’s former artistry; music and other forms of human expression often lead to strong emotions…and we already covered how this horrifying society feels about human emotion.

In true sci-fi form we’re offered a hero who goes from ‘part of the machine’ to humanity’s last real hope. Christian Bale plays Cleric John Preston, an officer fully devoted to stamping out human emotion wherever he’s sent. Not only do Clerics destroy any ‘free-thinkers’ and pieces of artwork they come across, but they’re also schooled in the slick art of “Gunkata”. (Imagine high-end martial arts with a pistol in each hand and you get the idea.) But when Preston’s partner Partridge (played quite well by Sean Bean) comes down with a nasty case of ‘humanity’, it starts a chain reaction of events that eventually shake Preston from his drug-induced apathy.

And Preston’s superiors are none too happy about the change.

Look, if you’re gonna knock every movie that takes some inspiration from another, you’re going to spend a lot of time criticizing every single movie you see. Taken as a wholly enjoyable “Sci-Fi Greatest Concepts” compilation, Equilibrium more than works. Aside from its varied inspirations, the movie also manges to mark some new territory of its own; Wimmer clearly has a learned passion for science fiction, so it’s clear (to me, at least) that Equilibrium is not some “get rich quick off the ideas of someone else” sort of retread.

One glowing asset that the film can boast is an excellent cast: Bale continues his string of ‘authoritarian oddballs’ and manages to get the viewer fully ensconsed in Preston’s plight. Bale must work virtually “emotion-free” for two-thirds of the film (a goal much tougher than one would expect) yet still manages to make us CARE about what happens to the guy. Tough role; damn solid performance. Bean offers rewarding work in a very small role, and the list goes on and on. Angus McFadyen is clearly having a ball as the Big Brother-ish overseer; Emily Watson brings some welcome light and heart into a generally heavy movie; Taye Diggs steals a few scenes whole as Preston’s ambitious new partner, and a few always-welcome character actors (including Sean Pertwee and William Fichtner) capably populate the background.

My bet is this: if you’re ‘sci-fi smart’ enough to notice all of the sources that Wimmer was clearly inspired by, you’ll probably be able to appreciate Equilibrium for what it is: 50% homage to the classic science fiction touchstones and 50% damn solid in its own right. I see so many movies that RIP OFF other movies that it’s a real delight to find one that borrows its inspirations with some respect and creativity.

Plus there’s a heaping handful of ass-kicking action scenes, and those are always cool.

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originally posted: 04/30/04 19:14:55
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User Comments

9/02/14 Dude Stupid, pretentious crap 1 stars
9/19/12 austin stupid 1 stars
4/22/11 man total crap 1 stars
3/19/10 yo dude love this film. kicks ass in so many unconventional ways. Bale is perfect in the role 5 stars
8/02/09 r0b it could be worst 2 stars
9/09/08 Andy W Exellent movie, have hooked several friends on it. 5 stars
9/07/08 Halad65 Awesome! XD XD 5 stars
6/22/08 David V Lame rip-off of the The Matrix among other science fiction movies. 2 stars
3/20/08 Dunecat Extremely underrated movie, on par with The Matrix 4 stars
9/08/07 some random hobo this is simply a very good, smart movie and the fight scenes are unprecedented. 5 stars
7/09/07 Jubei It's 1984 with martial arts.Should've focused more on Bale's discovery of emotions. 4 stars
7/07/07 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
12/22/06 Colin Smart Indiscriminate killings is never justificed 3 stars
12/15/06 Tony 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
6/20/06 Herbert GREAT!! 5 stars
6/03/06 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
4/13/06 Not Brain Dead Only a moron would think this was a rip-off of The Matrix. See a few movies, then write 3 stars
2/19/06 VC amzing 5 stars
1/01/06 Quigley this film really makes you think about humanity. Bale, the plot and the fights were awesome 5 stars
8/30/05 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
12/13/04 Vince A good sci fi flick with brains, atmosphere and action 4 stars
11/24/04 James Battle good film, lacked in the accessory department 4 stars
10/09/04 Will Dontex Cool gun fights-almost more realistic than the Matrix, plot sucks but great action! 4 stars
10/04/04 malcolm Fahrenheit 451 + 1984 with dope and martial arts. i can't wait to see Bale as Bruce Wayne. 5 stars
9/28/04 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
9/10/04 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
5/24/04 Glen Interesting premise. Great action scenes make it a must! Especially the final fight 5 stars
5/18/04 Anne Great movie. Many people who do not like it seem not to get the underlying theme throughout 5 stars
5/13/04  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
4/19/04 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
12/08/03 Sammy The Gun battle are second to none and the fights are short but sweet. 5 stars
11/09/03 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
9/10/03 Doc Shock Farenheit 451 + Matrix + THX1138 = Equilibrium. Good flick! 4 stars
8/03/03 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
7/18/03 Dead Ringers FX Rule! A pleasant surprise. A beautiful drama and action sci fi film all in one. 5 stars
7/16/03 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
6/16/03 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
5/31/03 Jack Sommersby Its character moments actually outshine the overdone action ones. 4 stars
5/24/03 Chris Better than the matrix: reloaded 5 stars
5/17/03 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
2/02/03 Allan Jones Nice!!! 5 stars
1/29/03 x-cal I WANT THIS ON FRICKIN DVD NOW!!! 5 stars
1/09/03 Myztiq totally worth it. makes you think and action is sweet! 5 stars
12/10/02 Killboy Does things with guns like Japanese chefs to with spatulas. Action is scarce, but unGODly. 5 stars
12/09/02 Phil Reese Matrix in inspiration, perhaps, but not in execution: see it and you won't be disappointed 5 stars
12/09/02 Zor Good if you like post apoctalyptic totalitarian moves. 5 stars
12/09/02 Conner Do not under any circumstances see it. There is not a single redeeming feature. 1 stars
12/07/02 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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