johnlink ranks EQUILIBRIUM (2002)

When I look back on 2011, I am probably going to ask myself why I watched so much sci-fi. In fairness, I was in the mood for a film about Japan tonight (I’m on a learn Japanese kick), but didn’t have anything that fit the bill. So I went to a movie I’d seen probably half a dozen years ago, remember liking, and wanted to revisit.

I watched EQUILIBRIUM (2002) on 8.15.11. It was my second viewing of the film. TRAILER HERE

Though I do remember very much liking this film, the only thing I could recall specifically was the terrible CGI shot at the close of the climactic fight. I did remember the basic theme. We’re talking about Fahrenheit 451 meets 1984 (they should have called this FAHRENHEIT 2435). This is a world where people medicate themselves several times a day to ensure they feel no emotion. Emotion has become illegal because emotion leads to ‘war’ (the name call people who commit the crime of ‘feeling’? Sense Offenders).

This opens up the film to plenty of interpretation. It can be seen as a condemnation of the sameness of Marxism or Communism. Yet this is muddied by the fact that the main character is later told a few people must not feel so that the masses can enjoy emotion and the fact that the villain is a Sense Offender himself.

This film is slightly hurt by its knowledge of the Matrix. Costumes are effected, emotions are effected, fight scenes are effected. When we first see Christian Bale it looks like they tried to find someone who looked like the love child of Neo and Agent Smith, which makes sense because Bale’s John Preston is both savior and emotionless cleric enforcer.

Bale is the reason this film is not merely mediocre. The filmmakers caught a star on the rise, and he makes the subtle choices necessary to make Preston likable and believable. Taye Diggs as the partner/nemesis is less successful. For someone who supposedly doesn’t feel emotion, he sure does get angry a lot. Sean Bean has an excellent small role, and we can see Bale’s transformation into the same sort of character Bean is in the film’s first act.

This film is fully in the hands of writer/director Kurt Wimmer, who has quite a vast writing resume which includes SPHERE, THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR remake, THE RECRUIT, LAW ABIDING CITIZENS, and the upcoming TOTAL RECALL remake.  His direction clearly has some sloppy moments. There are times when the characters do and say things which are too convenient for the plot. The fact that Preston gets away with what he does for so long is fairly absurd (a twist at the end tries to fix this, but it doesn’t feel organic at all).

In the end this is an ambitious but flawed science fiction film. I give it credit for trying so hard, but concepts like Gun Kata (the art of shooting and moving geometrically to avoid getting shot) is trying too hard. If Bullett Time never existed, this film probably wouldn’t have had something silly like this. Again, I just wish this movie wasn’t so aware of THE MATRIX.





~ by johnlink00 on August 19, 2011.

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