Since the movie debuted, I've been keeping track of IMDB user comments and polling people I know. I have determined that I am the only non-critic (and by critic, I mean someone who gets paid to write reviews) who disliked this movie. In fact, currently, the movie enjoys a higher rating on IMDB
than the Devil's Advocate
or Full Metal Jacket
, both of which, although not in the same vein as this movie, nonetheless deserve a much higher place in the movie rankings than below Equilibrium
. So, there is either something wrong with me, or I saw a totally different version than the rest of the human race has seen. Time will tell.
Update (2003.03.23) - Apparantly, I am not totally insane. bipolarbear says: I just saw equilibrium, and came on here to write a review in a fit of rage over this appalling movie... but you've already done it! :-D
Released December 6, 2002 (Limited Release, US)
Working title: Librium
Directed by Kurt Wimmer
Running time: 107 minutes
Christian Bale Clerick John Preston
Taye Diggs Clerick Brandt
Emily Watson Mary O'Brian
Angus MacFadyen Master Clerick
Sean Bean Clerick Partridge
William Fichtner Rebel Leader
Here's a true story: This evening, I went to see a movie called "Equilibrium." Now normally, I save every movie ticket and throw them in a shoebox filled with precious mementos. On my trip through the parking lot, I pulled out my Zippo and proceeded to burn my ticket. Then proceeded to speed home, so I could take an extremely violent shit. I don't know what was worse; how painful the bowel movement was, or how painful the movie was.
Roger Ebert gave this movie 3 stars out of 4. As soon as I'm done writing this review, I'm going to track him down and force-feed him his review. Laced with strychnine. I realize you're probably thinking, "Shouldn't the punishment fit the crime?" But frankly, I'm a busy man, and I don't have time for 6 months of chakra torture.
It's possible you're asking yourself, "Equilibrium? That's funny, I don't remember any commercials on the TV/Radio/Internet." And you'd be right - as far as I can determine, there were no TV or radio spots, and the trailer has only been available on Apple.com since December 2nd. I can only imagine that the producers, upon seeing the final edit, realized they had an absolute bomb on their hands and attempted to cut their losses.
I suppose you're expecting some sort of review of the movie, so I guess I should make an attempt. Then again, if I put as much effort into this review as writer/director Kurt Wimmer put into his screenplay, I could call it a day right now.
"Equilibrium" gives us a society, Libria, which is opiated by a drug known as Prozium, a necessity after World War III. The survivors in power decided that it was man's emotion that led to war, and in order to prevent any such future occurrences, they constructed a society based on emotionlessness. This is aided by the destruction of all art, music, and cultural relics, not to mention 3 doses a day of the aforementioned Prozium injection.
Those who forsake the drug and embrace their humanity are known as "Sense Offenders," and these criminals are tended to by an elite class of soldiers known as Grammaton Clericks. And by "tended to," I mean "Terminated with extreme prejudice."
Within the first 20 minutes of the film, we've encountered Clerick John Preston, played by Christian Bale, watched him kill his partner for being a Sense Offender, and discovered his wife was executed for Sense offenses 4 years earlier. But thanks to his Prozium doses, he doesn't seem to mind much. Watching this movie, I suddenly wished they made a drug which made horrible movies tolerable.
All is well and good in emotionless Libria, until Preston accidentally knocks a vial of his Prozium off the bathroom sink, and doesn't have time to pick up another dose before interrogating Mary O'Brien. As a sidenote, Mary is played by Emily Watson, whose performance was nothing short of a sidenote. Suddenly, he is overwhelmed with emotion, and continues to abstain from his medication, leading him to question authority and rebel. And by "rebel," I mean "Terminate with extreme prejudice."
I suppose you're expecting me to say something along the lines of, "At this point, the movie degenerates into a Matrix-wannabe." Unfortunately, the movie was one from the moment Preston and his partner show up to tend to the first lot of Sense Offenders. Christian Bale was dripping with Keanuosity, from the slicked-back black hair, black garb, and generally emotionless acting ability.
Although one would be hesitant to mention the dullness of his performance, given the fact he was on the drug, he was only on the drug for the first 20 minutes. After that, I would've expected him to suddenly become warm and likeable. Instead, he merely dives into his best Keanu Reeves impersonation and begins dealing with ludicrous amounts of heavily armed soldiers in his attempt to overthrow Libria's regime. And by "dealing with," I mean, "Terminating with extreme prejudice."
During the course of the movie, we are subjected to no less than 6 major gun fight scenes, not a single one of them memorable. The Clericks display incredible superhuman agility and strength, which would be fine if this was the Matrix, but this isn't. It's set in the future, in the "real world," and yet we're supposed to digest the idea that humans can jump 20 feet into the air and dodge the bullets of 20 close-range gunmen using "statistical probability."
I suppose by now you're thinking to yourself, "This movie sounds awful. I should go see it just for the cheese factor." This is where I warn you that I saw the Transporter, the One, and xXx, and I enjoyed both on a cheesy action movie level. I feel confident saying this movie makes abysmal blush. Gut-wrenchingly-awful could stand next to this movie and therefore look attractive in comparison. After seeing this movie, ritual seppuku seemed like a fun way to pass the time.
This movie will be the low marks on the resumes of actors and actresses like Christian Bale, Taye Diggs, Sean Bean, and Emily Watson. Kurt Wimmer, whose visuals were forgettable and his screenplay full of clichés and attempts to rip off many other successful movies and books, will hopefully never write a screenplay again. I never thought I'd see a movie "inspired" by 1984, Brave New World, and the Matrix which was so...I seem to be running out of synonyms for "bad." You get the idea. I sincerely hope the entire special effects team returns to throwing together low-budget effects for advertising, because Terminator 2 had more believable special effects.
In short: Do not see this movie. Ever. If you see it on movie store shelves, run in the opposite direction, screaming. If not for yourself, then at least for the children. Do it for the children.
Final Verdict (out of 5): 0 - This one doesn't even get out of the starting gate
If you want to see the movie, just watch the trailer. If you've read this and seen the trailer, then you've pretty much seen all there is to see.
If you did see the movie, hate mail can be directed to:
If you'd like to see what I was talking about with regard to Ebert's review, it can be found here:
A few notes regarding Ebert's review. It is my theory that he did not, in fact, see the movie, and he was merely fed facts to digest.
- His cast list is incorrect. Now, it is Ebert's job to watch movies. And he's undoubtedly seen many movies with William Fichtner in them. He should realize that the rebel leader was good 'ol Will, and not this "Franceco Cabras." Interestingly enough, the IMDB reflects the same error.
- He also spells Clerick incorrectly. A minor point, but worth noting.
- In the movie, it is Preston's partner, Partridge, who conceals the book of W.B. Yeats poetry. This was a VERY important plot point, and I can't imagine anyone who actually saw the movie would be mistaken over this. However, Partridge and Preston look similar on paper, and could easily be confused while reading about the movie from studio-prepared synopsii.
- He incorrectly states that Nick Nunziata from CHUD.com may have invented the term "gun-kata." If he'd been watching the movie, he may have noticed it spoken of at least 3 or 4 times. Again, it was hard to miss. As a sidenote, his English in this sentence is extremely fragmented and hard to read. I think he may have rushed this review out the door before bothering to read it.
- I am nearly 100% positive that the record being listened to by Preston is not a jazz record, but that of a symphony. To be more specific, it was Beethoven's 9th. Now, he may not be a classical music afficionado, but one would think he could take a look at the credits, or, at the very least, tell the difference between an age-old classic symphony and jazz. Once again, I cannot understand how one who claims to have seen the movie could have missed this.