From the opening scenes Equilibrium pulls you into a claustrophobic dystopian world where people live under constant surveillance and oppression - the world with walls built not just around, but inside people, too.
Review by Wasa
March 4, 2009
Writer and Director: Kurt Wimmer
Christian Bale as John Preston
Sean Bean as Errol Partridge
Taye Diggs as Brandt
Angus Macfadyen as Dupont
Emily Watson as Mary O'Brien
William Fichtner as Jürgen
Mary O'Brien: To feel. 'Cause you've never done it, you can never know it. But it's as vital as breath. And without it, without love, without anger, without sorrow, breath is just a clock... ticking.
Those who survived the destruction of WWIII live in a state-city called Libria. After the war, mankind agreed that feelings were the source of evil and violence and therefore they must be suppressed in order to live in peace and harmony. To accomplish that, the drug Prozium was suggested as a solution. It does not make people feel high when they are low, nor sleepy, anxious or god forbid happy. It makes them feel...nothing. Nothing at all. Perfect solution.
Don't be surprised if you come across a parents' guide for Equilibrium in which under the category of "drugs" it says none. Even the always so serious John Preston would crack a smile if he could read that considering the kind of a society he lives in, which is wholly dependent on Prozium. Maybe it doesn't count because nobody sticks a needle into their eyeballs nor sniffs a white powder off of a polished glass table. (Or maybe it doesn't count because the drug is legal in the movie - approved and distributed by the government itself?)
Equilibrium is a name of the building in the middle of the town where obedient citizens can refill their supply of Prozium. Everyone is obligated to take this drug every day. Those who refuse and have feelings are "sense-offenders" and, if caught, they are arrested and executed.
Libria, ruled by Tetragrammaton Council, looks like a giant prison with armed guards on every corner, big billboards from which Father, the leader, "speaks" to the masses. The government has highly trained special forces called Grammaton Clerics. Their job is to find "sense-offenders". They also search for everything that may evoke feelings: paintings, music and literature in order to destroy it. The land, outside the tick walls which surround Libria, is called The Nethers. There hide those who oppose the government and fight the system.
John Preston is a Grammaton Cleric First Class. He is a father of two - Robbie and Lisa. As we learn in the course of the movie his wife was charged and executed as a "sense-offender" before events shown in the movie. Preston is martial arts expert, including highly efficient and deadly style called Gun Kata and as you probably guessed, he is a master of it. He is uncompromising. His intuition helps him to discover people who have feelings and he even shoots his own partner Errol Partridge, when he discovers that he crossed to the other side.
Everything changes one day when he accidentally breaks his Prozium ampula and misses his dosage. Next morning a unsettling dream wakes him. For the first time he can really feel the beat of his quickened heart and appreciate the beauty of rainbow in the morning sky. Soon, he discovers the whole range of feelings he never felt before. And with feelings come the doubts. They make him see the system he lives in from another angle as well as consider the options he has.
Martial art lovers will have special fun with Equilibrium. The director and screenwriter Kurt Wimmer invented "Gun Kata" for this movie - practicing in his back yard - which combines martial art movements with gunfighting. We can see him perform it at the beginning of the movie.
In Equilibruim, Dupont describes the power of this martial arts
style explaining to students what it is and what they can do with it:
"The Gun Kata. Through analysis of thousands of recorded gunfights, the Cleric has determined that the geometric distribution of antagonists in any gun battle is a statistically predictable element. The gun kata treats the gun as a total weapon, each fluid position representing a maximum kill zone, inflicting maximum damage on the maximum number of opponents while keeping the defender clear of the statistically traditional trajectories of return fire. By the rote mastery of this art, your firing efficiency will rise by no less than 120%. The difference of a 63% increase to lethal proficiency makes the master of the gun katas an adversary not to be taken lightly."
Christian Bale stars in the role of John Preston. Sean Bean is cast as Errol Partridge and though his part ends early in the movie, his character lingers on throughout the movie. It is a nice touch that as Preston starts to embrace his own feelings he also starts to understands Patrige's motivations and he even uses the same words which Patrige used in a similar situation.
Equilibrium is visually dynamic and strikes the right mix of action, emotion and brain. Good choice for Sunday afternoon hang out with science fiction fans.
And finally....William Butler Yeats' poem used in movie - Errol Partridge recites few lines from it.
He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven:
Had I the heaven's embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
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