Last week I left you with that strange drama taste in your mouth, so this time around I wanted to show you that an action flick can have a little depth. Equilibrium is a movie that was completely overlooked in 2002 mostly because it had to follow 1999’s The Matrix with about half the budget. With big white box letters on the front stating, “FORGET THE MATRIX” how could I not take it for a test spin? Because of this bold statement and a cleverly designed box art I was instantly drawn to the film while perusing my local video chain.
With a lot of speculation I proceeded to watch this Matrix competitor and to my surprise the only thing it really had in common with the 1999 classic was an epic lobby battle scene. Equilibrium is the story of Grammaton Cleric, John Preston played by Christian Bale! Do I need to say anything else? You’re not bought and sold just on the man’s name itself? Was it because of Terminator? OK, I guess you want a little more information, so Preston is the highest ranked military hunter of a sect of people that can feel called sense offenders. That’s right, feel. In this fictitious future humanity has given up it’s right to experience emotion as emotion seems to be the root of all evil. This is all according to the all knowing “Father” who has taught his followers that an absence of emotion is the only way to prevent crime, war, and violence. “Thou shalt not feel” This is the battle of free thought found in Equilibrium. Hmm that sounds familiar, but anyway. To prevent these evil feelings every living person must inject themselves with an “interval” a kind of drug that leaves them numb from head to toe. This nice little wink at the Prozac-nation is enforced by killing machines known as Grammaton Clerics, these clerics comb Libra in search of sense offenders, a group of people that refuse to give up their right to feel. Preston, after missing one of his intervals, becomes a sense offender seeing through the propaganda that he once believed sending him on a mission to right the wrong he has done and take down “Father”.
The reason I love this film so much is because of it’s deep political undertones and well placed and designed subtleties. I could go on for days just dissecting the film’s attacks on prescription drugs, government and religion and be completely satisfied, but that is not what makes the film great. It’s the intersecting of all these topics with a beautifully designed world and the people that occupy it. It’s such a brilliant design that writer/director Kurt Wimmer has yet to live up to it. This could also be due to the fact that Wimmer had one of the best actors in my opinion at his disposal, Christian Bale.
I first noticed Bale’s talents when I came across the cult classic American Psycho. It was then that I knew he was an actor I needed to follow. In Equilibrium this is no different, because without Bale this film would just not be the same. I can’t imagine any other actor in this role as the emotional requirements are off the chart, Bale is required to go from emotionless puppet to a person overcome by a flood of feeling and still be believable when he blows someone’s head off. Who better to do this than Patrick Bateman himself?
Though this film definitely makes you think about an array of world affairs, it is not lacking in the action department. Equilibrium‘s spectacular gun battles still hold up ten years later. What makes the film stand out is it’s take on the vision of gun play. In the movie they use the weapon not only as a fire canon for the camera to focus on, but more of an extension of it’s user. Rather than just have the actor stand in awe of the power they hold it becomes an extension of their fist making their whole body the weapon. A little of this action may have found it’s way into a purple-haired eleven year old girl as she plows down a hallway in search of revenge this year.
Overall, Equilibrium has it all: thought-provoking dialog, emotional acting, and puppies! How can you not want to see this or if you have, not want to pop it in right now? I know I do, so on that note I’m off to watch Bale do some “Gun Kata”. After your bad-ass Bale-a-thon come back here and let me know what you thought. Until then this document has been rated EC-10!
If you have any movie suggestions for “Lost In Found” please email them to Ryan[at]lostinreviews.com
By Ryan Davis