Although this film was released originally in 2002, I had never seen it. However when I read about it on IMDB when I was flicking through back catalogs and trivia, I thought I would give it a go. And I thought Equilibrium had a lot lying in it’s favour. The concept seemed really interesting, it has my main man Christian Bale as the lead, and it has a pretty respectable 7.6 rating on IMDB. However, I was left feeling rather disappointed.
The concept is this: In the early 21st Century, World War 3 broke out, devastating Earth. After it was over, a cure for emotions was created, and now set in a fascist state, Libria, all forms of feelings are branded illegal, to prevent further wars. Law enforcers (Grammaton Clerics) are trained in martial arts and put in place to take out the “Sense Offenders” and destroy all contraband, such as paintings, music and films. John Preston is the best enforcer, however after having an epiphany of emotion, rises to overthrow the system he has been enforcing, from the inside.
It sounds like it should be gripping, thrilling, exciting, and other adjectives with similar meanings. However, I was unable to ever get into this film. It was a bit too slow and boring, and I don’t think really explored the concept as effectively as it could have. Not quite enough time was spent on any of the aspects that the film touched on. Some back story is given to Bale’s character, but is sort of forgotten, then re-visited briefly, and then forgotten again. We see his children, and interactions with his son which feels like it will play a large factor, but then doesn’t really. The idea of the underground resistance is central to the plot and narrative of the film, but even that felt like it wasn’t thought through well enough and wasn’t developed. Character’s like William Fichtner’s, Jurgen, are hinted to be crucially important, but just drift away and become unforgettable. The same for Bale’s new partner, Brandt, played by Taye Diggs. Oh, and Sean Bean does what Sean Bean does …
All of these should be significant contributors to Bale’s journey to take down the regime, but they end up being merely enablers, and this is the film’s downfall. I feel that the film would have been better served to have had less enablers and spend some real time developing the contributors to make this a more rounded film.
The performances weren’t fantastic – however I think that was due to poor scripture and the concept not being as tight as it should have been. In a state where emotion is outlawed and prevented by interval injections, we still see emotion and feelings from the enforcers. They smile, they get angry, they on occasion act scared … yet these are all human emotions/feelings. If emotions really were prevented by the injections, then these would not be possible.
This was released 12 years ago, and it hasn’t aged well … it felt old and outdated. The set wasn’t great, and at times looked very cheap. The action also wasn’t consistent – there were times when I thought, wow that was amazing, and then a few minutes later, it couldn’t have looked more choreographed if it had tried.
I was very disappointed, as I was expecting this to be a great film, and as Christian Bale is one of my favourite actors, it was even more disappointing to see a film of his I did not enjoy. Although I didn’t think he was particularly bad in the film, the story just wasn’t there, and even an actor of his calibre couldn’t save this one. I’m a little perplexed as why this has such a high score on IMDB, and an even higher 82% rating from audiences on Rotten Tomatoes. This may have worked better as book, where the time could have been spent on developing the ideas and portraying emotionless enforcers would have been easier than a motion picture.
I have to say, I definitely wouldn’t recommend this one – 4/10