Equilibrium is a movie in search of a plot. Writer/director Kurt Wimmer (One Tough Bastard) came up with a fascinating concept: combining martial arts with gunplay. It's pretty derivative of The Matrix and any John Woo movie, with the main difference that it incorporates guns and firing into martial arts movements. With such a good idea, he apparently felt the need to make a science fiction movie, and not thinking of anything else, came up with a highly formulaic movie reminiscent of many other films that came before. Oddly enough, Equilibrium, although nearly completely brainless, is fairly enjoyable. Wimmer may not be the best writer, but he does have a keen eye for action and fight choreography.

The concept behind Equilibrium is that emotions are considered evil. The public takes daily injections of Prozium, a drug that suppresses any and all emotion, and the Grammaton Clerics, a police force, patrol looking for 'sense offenders,' people who go off Prozium. The Clerics are masters at the aforementioned art, which uses movements based on statistical probabilities. They move their bodies into the positions least likely to be in the line of fire, and fire where they are most likely to hit targets. John Preston (Christian Bale, Reign of Fire, Captain Corelli's Mandolin) is the best Cleric there is, and finds himself accidentally going off Prozium. He revels in these new emotions he is feeling, and finds himself torn between these emotions and his duties as a Cleric.

His new partner Brandt (Taye Diggs, Brown Sugar, Just a Kiss) suspects that something is amiss. The rest of Equilibrium is typical science fiction/oppressed society fare (think 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 mixed together). Preston slowly realizes what is truly happening, and goes in search of a rebel movement bent on toppling the government. Emily Watson (Red Dragon, Punch-Drunk Love) of all people even makes an appearance. Equilibrium does get better, if not more familiar, as it progresses. Part of the reason is that Wimmer needs to spend time establishing his universe. Mostly it is because as Preston rebels further, he has more opportunity to kick butt.

Lately, Bale seems to be gravitating towards a more action-oriented role. Preston is a combination of his characters from Reign of Fire and American Psycho. Dressed to the nines, Preston coolly fires hundreds of rounds, managing to hit everybody all the while missing every bullet aimed at him. Watching him flip and jump is so graceful it is almost like ballet. The last 20 minutes or so of the film is almost one kinetic action sequence, full of guns, swords, and an exhilarating fist fight where both opponent are also trying to fire guns at each other. There is also something fun and completely unrealistic about watching a man completely incapacitate a circle of men around him pointing swords and/or guns at him. The camera work owes much to other action films, but Wimmer does a great job filming his sequences. Well, everything about Equilibrium owes much to other films. But in this brainless romp is an element of excitement, which makes it a little bit better than most of its fellow copycats.

Mongoose Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 47 minutes, Rated R for violence.

Back to Movies