Directed & written by Kurt Wimmer
Produced by Jan de Bont & Lucas Foster
Cinematography by Dion Beebe
Music by Klaus Badelt
Cast: Christian Bale, Sean Bean, Emily Watson, Sean Pertwee, Angus MacFayden & Wiliam Fichtner
2002/107 mins/Color/5.1 Dolby Digital
2.35:1 anamorphic/English/US & German/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Dimension DVD
In EQUILIBRIUM, war is eliminated after World War III by medicating everyone regularly with Prozium, a drug that restrains emotions. To combat those who continue to feel ("sense offenders") and destroy anything that might cause emotions (art, books, etc.), the government forms the Grammaton Clerics, an elite division of police who use Gun-Kata -- a form of martial arts in which the gun is an extension of the hand and the mathematical probabilities of what actions will be successful are taken into account. Christian Bale plays the Clerics' top officer who misses a dose of Prozium and begins to feel again. Also stars Sean Bean, Angus McFadyen, Taye Diggs and Emily Watson.
Though the movie was shot on an what appears to be low budget for a science fiction film, you can't tell. Every penny is on screen, creating one of the most realistic and enveloping worlds since Blade Runner. The Gun-Kata battles are executed perfectly and are some of the most exciting scenes from any movie I've seen this year. Forget bullet-time... I'm talking a real-time ballet of martial-arts inspired violence that will leave you breathless. But what differentiates EQUILIBRIUM from every other action film? Three words: plot, drama, performances. Though the concept is similar in theme to past classics such as Fahrenheit 451 and 1984, director/writer Kurt Wimmer gives us a world unique enough to stand on its own. Christian Bale gives the most nuanced performance of his career here as a man struggling with emotions that he has never before been allowed to feel. Without him, the whole shebang might have fallen into forgettable-movie territory. Thankfully, his performance and those of the supporting players are uniformly excellent.
For those who complained that Bale spent most of the movie staring at himself with glaring angst in the mirror, I timed these and they took up a whole whomping 19 seconds in three scenes!
The transfer is 2.35:1 anamorphically enhanced and is excellent showing superb detail, blacks, shadows, and textures. The overall color theme is mostly gray in tone aptly showing a world where not much hope exists. What colors there are, are bright, clear, without bleeding, and in stark contrast The audio is DD 5.1 surround and is robust and impressive. Expect a sub-woofer workout here. Badelt's soundtrack music is well done and ranges, appropriately, from techno to quasi-new age/religious themes. Well done.
Supplements are a little sparse but there's a short Making Of documentary and two audio commentaries. No ROM materials are included. As usual with Dimension, there's no insert or booklet.
The art style, while minimalistic, and thus maybe confused for low-budget by some, is actually quite successful in portraying a totalitarian and emotionless society. The acting is excellent as well, and quite possibly the best I have seen in an action film in long time. While the nay-sayers will say that the film is too unoriginal, borrowing elements of its story and premise from "Fahrenheit 451" and "1984," these complaints can be disregarded as the movie adds enough of its own style and story to make the comparisons plausible in basic premise only. In the end, like any movie, "Equilibrium" is meant as entertainment. And entertain it does. It mixes action and with substantial plot and original style to make an excellent whole. While not perfect, it offers up a different take on a good story with intelligence, style, and a performance that carries it through the rough spots. See it for Bale. See it for the Cleric fight scenes. But most of all, see it for what it is--an individualistic voice in a chorus of mindless money machines. Recommended.
This Film Features:
Review by Brad Vautrinot. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©