Equilibrium

"Unbearable"

Equilibrium Review


The worst theatrically released sci-fi flick since "Battlefield Earth," "Equilibrium" is so blatantly derivative as to be insulting, so absurdly hackneyed it's hard to believe it's sincere, so full of scenery-chomping it's a wonder the actors don't weigh 300 lbs. by the closing credits -- and as a result it's such a laugh riot that it may well be the funniest movie of 2002.

The plot -- brazenly pillaged from "Fahrenheit 451," "1984" and "Brave New World" -- concerns a high-ranking government "Cleric" named John Preston (chisel-featured Christian Bale), a ruthless and deadly law enforcer in a "Metropolis"-styled dystopian future where emotions (and by extension, music, art, poetry, etc.) have been outlawed.

The populace takes twice-daily doses of a stupefacient called Prozium, but when passionless Preston misses a couple injections, has a confusing day of emerging feelings, then finds himself staring into the big brown eyes of a cute little puppy he's supposed to kill during a raid on a "sense offender" hideout (insert shots of famous paintings being torched with a flame-thrower here), he...just...can't...do it.

Instead he hides the puppy in the trunk of his car (a modern sedan discount-retrofitted to look laughably "futuristic") and embarks on a mission to single-handedly overthrow the system.

I am not making this up.

Right from the portentous and pretentious but utterly muddled opening voice-over that quite inadequately sets the stage, this movie is an embarrassment of unintentional laughs. The comic-book-military Nehru jackets, black gloves and slicked hair worn by Preston and his fellow Clerics are funny. The way dramatic shafts of light fall across their cold eyes whenever they say something important is funny.

The constant giant-video-screen barrage of ironically impassioned government propaganda is funny, not to mention nonsensical. Funnier still is the scene in which Preston is accused of being off Prozium and when he angrily bellows "I'm not feeling!," his superiors buy it.

Most hilarious of all are the many severely over-edited, slow-mo, "Matrix" rip-off, shootout-fu action sequences in which Preston kicks Orwellian ass with his tai-chi-based gun slinging, blade swinging and bullet dodging.

What isn't so funny is that very talented actors somehow got swept up in this B-movie bottom-scraper. Bale has been known to embrace cheesy movies before ("American Psycho" arguably, "Reign of Fire" certainly), and he's so good at ham-fisted performing that it's impossible to tell if he's taking this movie seriously or if he knows he's hip-deep in crap.

This is the second so-bad-it's-funny movie this year for Taye Diggs, playing a rival Cleric who may be forced to bring rebellious John Preston down. Most recently he was superb in "Brown Sugar," but be glad you didn't see the killer sorority bimbo bomb "New Best Friend."

The real question is, what are the illustrious Emily Watson ("Punch-Drunk Love," "Gosford Park") and Agnus McFayden ("Cradle Will Rock," "Titus," "Braveheart") doing here, playing a condemned "sense offender" Preston falls in love with and the autocratic world's maniacal head of state?

Writer-director Kurt Wimmer (co-writer of 1999's "Thomas Crown Affair" remake) must have been holding some serious blackmail material on his cast, because nobody in their right mind would sign on voluntarily after reading his ludicrous script, brimming as it is with sledgehammer symbolism (Nazi-like national flags), flagrant contradictions (if there's no emotion, why is there marriage?), simplistic plot devices (apparently an entire society can be brought to its knees by shooting a few computer screens), logical chasms (why torture and kill "sense offenders" when they could just be drugged again?) and insipid clichés.

Not a single frame of "Equilibrium" contains even a whiff of originality. If it's not imitating Orwell, Bradbury and Huxley, it's lifting scenes wholesale from "Metropolis," "The Matrix," "RoboCop," "Blade Runner," "Gattaca," and even "Citizen Kane."

But as "Mystery Science Theater 3000," that sadly defunct masterpiece of movie mockery, proved, there are bad movies and there are movies so bad they qualify as a popcorn-thrower's delight.

"Equilibrium" is the latter -- a cinematic disaster so inadvertently sidesplitting it's worth the price of admission for the ridicule factor alone.



Equilibrium

Facts and Figures

Run time: 107 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 26th February 2003

Box Office USA: $1.1M

Box Office Worldwide: $5.4M

Budget: $20M

Distributed by: Miramax Films

Production compaines: Blue Tulip Productions, Dimension Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 0.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 38%
Fresh: 32 Rotten: 52

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as John Preston, as Brandt, as Mary O'Brien, as Dupont, as Errol Partridge, as Seamus, Christian Kahrmann as Officer in Charge, as Father, as Jürgen, John Keogh as Chemist, David Barrash as Evidentiary Storage Officer, Dirk Martens as Gate Guard, Matthew Harbour as Robbie Preston, Maria Pia Calzone as Preston's Wife, Emily Siewert as Lisa Preston

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

War Dogs Movie Review

War Dogs Movie Review

Based on a rather astounding true story, this comedy-drama centres on two stoners who landed...

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

Advertisement
The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.