“E” is for Equilibrium (2002)
veryone liked The Matrix when it came out as did I, but then a film came along in 2002 that was largely ignored by critics and movie fans alike. It was also the film that put actor Christian Bale more on my radar.
Of course I had seen him in films like Empire Of The Sun way back when, but there was just something about his performance in Equilibrium that made him stand out. The story is a really good one aswell and reminds of some of the dystopian films of the late 70s and early 80s.
The plot revolves around a future Earth where feelings are illegal and any form of creativity or appreciation for the arts is punishable by death. In charge of enforcing the law in this society are the Grammaton Clerics who are ruthless and unwavering in their execution of their job. John Preston (Bale) is one such cleric and he is considered by many to be the best at his craft. Besides the Clerics, the society of Libria has developed a “cure” for feeling in the form of a liquid called Prozium which has to be taken at regular intervals in order to keep emotions in check. The theory is that without emotion, there is not feeling and therefore no war; a remarkable conclusion to make, but there will always be those that resist.
There is a lot to this movie. It has a great story, an ethical and moral thread that runs through the movie comparing Libria to Nazi Germany in many ways, but for me the action is what steals this film. A completely made up martial art was developed called the Gun Kata. This is a form of attack that allows the aggressor to kill their opponent without being hit themselves. You have to see the movie to really grasp its reality, but on film it is visually stunning and its for this reason that I rate Equilibrium above The Matrix. Yes, The Matrix had some really groundbreaking effects, but I just think the whole package of Bale’s film is more satisfying.
The movie was a commercial flop at the box office, but I think since then it has grown a cult status by word of mouth. It was also the movie that made Christian Bale’s star shine that much more brightly in Hollywood and I think he won a lot of roles of the strength of his performance here. There are some big names in the movie such as Sean Bean, Sean Pertwee, Taye Diggs and Emily Watson. If you haven’t seen Equilibrium, I highly recommend that you do at some point. It is high-octane action with some deep storylines thrown in.
Fun Fact: Despite popular belief, absolutely no wires were used in the film at all. All of the gravity-defying stunts were done through conventional means. For example, the backflip off of the motorcycle was done with a trampoline. (Another plus point to like it over The Matrix in my opinion)