This review was original written in 2002, I was able to recover it from version 1.0 of hankyee.com.
Equilibrium is one of the best movies of 2002. But unlike the other “best” movies it has received no advertising what so ever. Dimension Films released a trailer for the movie four days before it was scheduled for release and showed it in only 75 markets with limited screens in each of those markets. The little money that this movie is making is by word of mouth only. Which is a shame, considering how good the movie is.
Equilibrium takes place in a futuristic world, where a strict regime has eliminated war by suppressing emotions: books, art and music are strictly forbidden and feeling is a crime punishable by death. Tetra Grammaton Clerics are the long are of the law and are responsible for destroying those who resist the rules. First Class Cleric John Preston (Christian Bale) is the best of the best; he takes no shit and dishes out heaping loads of it. But when he has to kill his partner for being a sensory offender and misses a dose of Prozium, a mind-altering drug that hinders emotion, Preston, who has been trained to enforce the strict laws of the new regime, suddenly becomes a sensory offender himself and the only person capable of overthrowing the regime.
Writer & Director Kurt Wimmer borrowed, combined, and adapted ideas from Fahrenheit 451 & Brave New World. Some people may feel that this is a complete rip off of the earlier movies, but unofficially in Hollywood if a movie or idea has been around for ten years it becomes eligible for “re-imaging.” Wimmer puts together a nice story, but uses the same imagery of the future used in many other movies about the future. Since he adapted the plot from already established sources it didn’t really surprise me that he did the same his vision of the future.
The one thing that Wimmer does in grand fashion are the action sequences. The movie starts in high gear and never even thinks about slowing down. The scenes are truly original and should be the main selling point of the movie. The characters in the movie use a form of martial arts called “Gun-Kata” which uses mathematical possibility of combat. Each of the fighter’s stances put themselves in the least statistical possible place to be hit. He is basically outmaneuvering every shot being fired at him. This takes the look of different gun poses, which are usually for show in most movies, but in Equilibrium it’s a science. This is the most original idea to gunplay that I have ever seen in a movie.
It all starts off with Preston (Bale) kicking down a door and using it to slide into a pitch-black room filled with gun toting enemies. He fucks them up single handedly in the dark no less. Now that is badass. A scene like that could very well be the end scene in any other blockbuster action movie, but it’s the opening scene in Equilibrium. The fucking opening scene! Ladies & Gentlemen when any self respecting action junkie sees a scene like this in the first ten minutes of a movie they piss themselves & shit their britches at the same time. It’s incredibly dirty & fulfilling at the same time.
Now after seeing that the shock value of Preston killing six to ten guards at one time is removed and it becomes expected. Don’t be alarmed these expectations get meet several times in nothing less than excellence. Back flips and rolls are abundant. If you ever question widescreen just watch the layed out back flip off of a motorcycle, it will quiet any concerns that you might have forever!
One thing that I was glad to see is the first part of the final scene was a throw back to old school martial arts movies. Back when the final boss wasn’t the second best fighter (next to the hero) in the movie, and killed in only a few moves instead of a 5 minute long finale. Preston fucks Brandt (Taye Diggs) with 3 precise cuts with his sword. Slices that fuckers face right off. Not his head, his face, his fucking face, his god damn motherfucking face! The second part of the final scene is an all out Gun-Kata battle. It looks phat as hell, super fast pace and 100% deadly. God damn Preston is one badass mofo; that white boy can fight.
Equilibrium is easily the best action movie of the year, and one of the best movies flat out. Its only flaws are that its story elements are borrowed from previous movies and have a recycled feel. Because of that it doesn’t reach the plateau of the absolute best movies ever created. But for action movies it busts down the door to the action movie hall of fame and blows the fucker up. This has the most original action scenes since some guy first filmed drunk guys fighting back in the old old days. Fucking go see this movie. If you can’t find it in theaters, fucking bootleg it! All males must see this movie, if you have any sense of hesitation then consider yourself a pussy!