Review: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Directors commentary; Producer
and director's commentary; 'Finding Equlibrium' documentary; Trailers;
TV spots; Jump To Fight; Gun Kata.
IMAGINE a world without emotion, a place in which war has been
eradicated, but in which happiness, sadness, love and hate are
punishable by death. This is the world depicted in Equilibrium,
an intriguing, yet completely stupid, sci-fi fantasy, that combines
the classic what if scenario with the brash pyrotechnics
of movies such as The Matrix.
Christian Bale stars as government official, John Preston, a
keeper of the peace (or cleric) who ensures that the citizens
of Librian take their daily dose of Prozium, a designer drug that
stops feelings and keeps everyone on an even keel.
Refusal to take the drug is punishable by incineration, while
all earthly possessions (from records and books, to copies of
the Mona Lisa) are summarily destroyed.
When Preston skips his own dose of the drug, however, he unlocks
a world of sensation that he never knew existed and attempts to
contact the resistance, falling in love with Emily Watsons
sense offender along the way, and placing him on a
collision course with new partner, Brandt (Taye Diggs), and DuPont
(Angus MacFadyen), the sinister controller of Libria.
Borrowing heavily from other science fiction films, such as The
Matrix, Minority Report,
Fahrenheit 451 and 1984, Equilibrium gets by on raw style alone.
The film, though shot on a modest budget, looks good throughout,
while its action sequences - which introduce the Gun-Kata fight
form, a fast and furious combination of Western firepower and
Eastern discipline of the body - are suitably impressive.
Bale cuts a suitably athletic action figure and appears comfortable
in the numerous fight scenes, but struggles somewhat during the
quieter moments, as do most of the cast.
For it is during the supposedly intellectual part of the movie
that writer/director, Kurt Wimmers movie falls apart. Having
created an interesting world and premise, Wimmer sets about undermining
both with some quite ludicrous plot points.
Viewers are expected to believe, for instance, that Preston can
remain impassive over the death of his wife, while falling for
the charms of a cute little puppy, which provides the catalyst
for his change of heart, while the underground which exists to
usurp Librians rulers is, quite literally, located underground.
Also, in a film which sets out to show a lack of emotion from
the start, it comes as little surprise to find that most of the
principles are unaffecting - rendering it a cold and somewhat
clinical affair throughout. (Watsons potential love interest
isnt afforded the screen time necessary for viewers to care
about her, thereby wasting the talents of a gifted actress).
Anyone seeking a genuinely challenging slice of science fiction,
on a par with last years Minority
Report, is therefore advised to stay away, but for those seeking
a quick fix ahead of The
Matrix sequels, this just about fits the bill. It is very
much a triumph of style over substance but it manages to entertain
in a superficial way.