$2.50 Reviews: Equilibrium (2002)

$2.50 Reviews:

Equilibrium

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Equilibrium is a 2002 science-fiction/action film directed by Kurt Wimmer. Taking place in a dystopian society where emotions are prohibited, it starts Christian Bale as John Preston, a cleric, who has the job of finding and eliminating objects of artistic expression. He goes as far as to kill his own partner for so much as reading a book of poetry. There does not really seem to be room for emotions in Preston's life.

The way that emotions are suppressed is through a drug called Prozium. Every time the bell chimes in the city of Libria, people must inject themselves with the drug. Refusal to do so results in incineration. Soon after killing his partner, Preston drops one of his doses of Prozium, and neglects getting another one. The high-ranking cleric is now working with emotions, and he likes it. Can you see the turn by the protagonist coming from a mile away? Most definitely. Does that make it bad? I'm afraid that's also a "yes".

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I sense emotion...

For about the first 30 minutes, I really liked Equilibrium, and almost entirely due to the fact that the entire theme was that emotions cause all conflict, and should therefore be eliminated. I like that, as it fits nicely into what I personally believe to be true. When I found out that the rest of the film was going to be against this theme, the film really started to nose-dive. Once Preston gets his emotions back, the film basically just becomes boring. There are a few fight scenes, and the ending is very exciting, but the filler in between is not all that much fun to watch.

I think one of the main reasons is ends up being fairly uninteresting is the fact that the actors in the film are unable to keep a straight face. These characters, at least, most of the characters, are supposed to be more or less emotionless beings. They all seem to be skipping doses of Prozium, because almost all of them show plenty of emotion throughout. If they hadn't, the film could have been an in-depth look into what drugs are doing to society, but instead it just makes the entire project look silly.

Even John Preston, the one character who actually is supposed to feel emotions can't manage to find a balance between showing and not showing them. In society, he still needs to keep an emotionless face, but he can't. Maybe this is done because it is near impossible to suppress emotions without the use of drugs, but even before he stops taking them, he still shows far more emotion than he should. One would also think that once he enters into his private life, he'd be able to show as much emotion as he wants, but it turns out that he doesn't. Even at home, he still tries to keep his face a blank slate.

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Some of the fight scenes are fairly neat

If the plot hadn't taken such a turn, I feel that Equilibrium actually could have been a good movie. Not just because it would have fit better with my own ideologies, but also because it could have taken a good look at society as a whole, and more prominently the way it is run. The film mostly sidesteps this though, and mostly decides to focus squarely on the protagonist. This isn't nearly as interesting as it could have been, and instead makes us follow a character that we really have no desire to care for.

John Preston as a character really doesn't get all that much development. Apart from the shift from emotionless to feeling emotion, that's about all that happens. He changes personalities fairly suddenly, and then just stays there for the rest of the movie. His only driving force is that he feels society is doing something wrong, and decides that he should be the one to change it for the better. To do this, he uses impressive fighting techniques that he only learned because of society.

Equilibrium attempts to be a deep, insightful prediction of one of the many paths that humanity can go down. The dystopian setting only adds on to this attempt. However, the film actually isn't all that deep, and the so-called dystopia is something that I actually wouldn't mind all that much. Even though pretty much all of the characters are supposed to be without emotion, the actors portraying them are unable to keep a straight face. The action scenes are fairly well done, especially one near the ending, but they are too few and far between to keep the film exciting. The most memorable thing about Equilibrium is the fact that there is a really cute dog in it. That does not work in a film's favor, unless the film is expressly about the dog. In this case, the dog plays a small role, and yet still manages to be the most entertaining part of the entire production.

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I hate this film. Hate, hate, hate, hate hate. The concept is stupid, the characters are stupid, the world is stupid, the plot-twists are stupid and it's all made worse by the fact the film thinks it's far clever than it actually is, despite the fact that it lifts all its 'clever' material straight from either 1984 or THX 1138. See, the film as a brainless action movie would be fine. It'd still be awful, but I wouldn't quite despite is as I actually do. It's when they put a layer of pretentiousness about humans and emotion on top it makes it all the worse, because they fail at any kind of depth or character development. Also, if there is no emotion in the future and therefore no love, why was Preston married? And don't even get me started on the complete and utter mess that is Gun Kata..

Anyway, I enjoyed this review quite a lot, mainly because you ripped into a movie I despise quite neatly, and did it quite admirably. Prepare to defend your case however, as I know a lot of people on here love this movie. Because they are idiots

FargoDog:
why was Preston married?

I'm going to go with "so he could procreate". I'm guessing there is some backstory as to how mates are chosen and such, but the film certainly didn't explain it.

Prepare to defend your case however, as I know a lot of people on here love this movie.

I am ready!

Marter:

FargoDog:
why was Preston married?

I'm going to go with "so he could procreate". I'm guessing there is some backstory as to how mates are chosen and such, but the film certainly didn't explain it.

Prepare to defend your case however, as I know a lot of people on here love this movie.

I am ready!

But surely marriage is something completely unnecessary, or at least calling it 'marriage'. Hell, even living together to raise a child would be redundant, as you'd have no emotional attachment to on another or the child. It would be like a more expensive sea monkey.

..Also, at what point do you start giving the child those drugs to stop emotions? Gah! I hate this movie. -.-

FargoDog:
Hell, even living together to raise a child would be redundant, as you'd have no emotional attachment to on another or the child. It would be like a more expensive sea monkey.

After WW2 there were thousands of orphans and virtually no people to adopt them so they were raised overworked and understaffed orphanges. After several years they noticed something, the children weren't developing properly, physically and mentally.

The parents likely were required to stay involved so society wouldnt regress.

OT, the plot was a little flimsy, but it made up for it with some of the action scenes.

Sean Bean had the standout performance of the film for me

What I don't get is that one scene where Preston is in the middle of a crowded sidewalk and starts getting very emotional and starts to cry, while everyone else just kind of walks by him. You'd think that in a society where emotions are illegal a bunch of people would stop and say 'Hey! He's showing emotion! Somebody get the cops!'

I enjoyed the movie, but mostly for the Gun Fu. I'm not sure what else to say, except it was an interesting if slightly flat take on Orwellian themes.

FargoDog:

Marter:

FargoDog:
why was Preston married?

I'm going to go with "so he could procreate". I'm guessing there is some backstory as to how mates are chosen and such, but the film certainly didn't explain it.

Prepare to defend your case however, as I know a lot of people on here love this movie.

I am ready!

But surely marriage is something completely unnecessary, or at least calling it 'marriage'. Hell, even living together to raise a child would be redundant, as you'd have no emotional attachment to on another or the child. It would be like a more expensive sea monkey.

The concept of marriage is flawed, I agree, but I don't think raising a child would be redundant. I mean, it would be on the level of some animals. Mating and raising a child simply out of subconscious necessity, not due to any emotional attachment but to nurture them so they too can live out their emotionless, systematic lives (not trying to hate on animals, people).

Then again, I doubt that was the intention... maybe I'm just thinking of alternatives in the film's favour, because I didn't think it was as bad as everyone says (deserves credit for originality, however flawed the end product was).

FargoDog:
I hate this film. Hate, hate, hate, hate hate. The concept is stupid, the characters are stupid, the world is stupid, the plot-twists are stupid and it's all made worse by the fact the film thinks it's far clever than it actually is, despite the fact that it lifts all its 'clever' material straight from either 1984 or THX 1138. See, the film as a brainless action movie would be fine. It'd still be awful, but I wouldn't quite despite is as I actually do. It's when they put a layer of pretentiousness about humans and emotion on top it makes it all the worse, because they fail at any kind of depth or character development. Also, if there is no emotion in the future and therefore no love, why was Preston married? And don't even get me started on the complete and utter mess that is Gun Kata..

Anyway, I enjoyed this review quite a lot, mainly because you ripped into a movie I despise quite neatly, and did it quite admirably. Prepare to defend your case however, as I know a lot of people on here love this movie. Because they are idiots

This!

I watched Equilibrium after MovieBob lashed it with praise and it was terrible. Probably the worst movie I've seen this year.

Terrible.

A relatively fair and balanced review. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Personally, I really like this film. I have deeply personal reasons for enjoying it, however, so I don't expect everyone else to enjoy it. I'm glad people are unashamed of their hatred for it.

Hate is better than no emotion at all.

Blind Sight:
What I don't get is that one scene where Preston is in the middle of a crowded sidewalk and starts getting very emotional and starts to cry, while everyone else just kind of walks by him. You'd think that in a society where emotions are illegal a bunch of people would stop and say 'Hey! He's showing emotion! Somebody get the cops!'

Well I think its cuz those people dont know what emotions look like.

Or they didnt know how to handle it because...they didnt have emotions.

@marter: ah marter I knew youd actually like the whole society that has no emotions :P

Marik2:

Blind Sight:
What I don't get is that one scene where Preston is in the middle of a crowded sidewalk and starts getting very emotional and starts to cry, while everyone else just kind of walks by him. You'd think that in a society where emotions are illegal a bunch of people would stop and say 'Hey! He's showing emotion! Somebody get the cops!'

Well I think its cuz those people dont know what emotions look like.

Or they didnt know how to handle it because...they didnt have emotions.

@marter: ah marter I knew youd actually like the whole society that has no emotions :P

Still doesn't make sense in the context of the world they live in, despite them having no emotions or not being able to recognize them they'd still realize that there is something clearly going wrong with him, considering that everyone else walks perfectly without distractions. It's like if Winston Smith starting having sex in the middle of a street in Airstrip One. I really doubt the state wouldn't have propaganda telling the people to report him.

Y'know, the plot twist with Preston's kid being off Prozium really bothered me. You see, on the one hand it implies that Preston was an incredibly incompetent cleric who couldn't detect years worth of sense offending in the very close vicinity of INSIDE HIS OWN GOD DAMN HOUSE.

On the other hand...

WAR IS NOT CAUSED BY EMOTION THAT IS DOES MAKE SENSE WHY IS THIS MOVIE SO STUPID STUPID STUPID

WHY ON EARTH WOULD THEY LET PEOPLE VOLUNTARILY MAKE THE CHOICE WHETHER OR NOT TO CONSUME THE DRUG THAT THEIR ENTIRE SOCIETY FUNCTIONS UPON!?! I WASNT AWARE THE GOVERNMENT REALLY BELIEVED IN THE FUCKING HONOR SYSTEM?

WHY IS GUN KATA A THING?! WHY ARE LONG-RANGED BULLET-PROJECTILE LAUNCHING DEVICES NOT SUPERIOR TO A MAN WITH SILLY DANCE STYLES?! WHY IS THE FUCKING POLICE FORCE NOT TRAINED TO COUNTER GUN KATA IN CASE A CLERIC GOES ROGUE? SINCE CLEARLY THERE WAS A PRECEDENT ESTABLISHED IN THE FUCKING START OF THE MOVIE.

I HATE EVERYONE WHO LIKED THIS MOVIE AAARGHBLAARGHAGAGARG

I didn't like it much either, it could have been done a whole lot better.

That said I could never really get into the Matrix that much, the first film was pretty good but the other one wasn't that great and the first film never felt much like a 'classic' or super amazing film or anything.

 

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