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One of my favorite imperfect films.
shulmanator26 August 2004
I know it's stupid to believe that a futuristic society is dumb enough to believe that the mere existence paintings, poems and sculptures can somehow lead to WW4.

I know there's a statue as well as stylish architecture in the headquarters of the people who ban artwork.

I know it's stupid to assume that a culture based on taking a drug every morning is not a very secure or feasible idea.

I know it makes no sense for a culture with no emotions to still be able to fall in love, choose a spouse and desire sex to create children.

I know half the people that Preston attacks are just standing there doing nothing while they wait to get their ass kicked.

I know the sets look cheap.

I know it's stupid that the "police" seem to die because their helmet glass breaks, when they'd probably be smart enough to have shatter-proof, if not bullet-proof plexiglass in the first place.

I know there's no reason random citizens would sit in a square to watch a guy on a big screen giving a speech, re-enforcing what the characters already know.

I know it paints a stupid picture of characters with emotion as looking like long-haired Gothic slobs who do nothing but sit in rooms with paintings and LP records and poetry books all day.

I know the emotionless characters express emotions and crack facial expressions when they're probably not supposed to.

I know Gun-Fu doesn't make much sense as to its practicality.

I know this film is an inspired rip-off of "Fahrenheit 451", "1984", "THX-1138", "Brazil", and "Blade Runner".

................But I love it.

Although it's a mish mash of every "man vs. futuristic oppressive society" film ever made, it manages to pull it off as good as some of its inspirations.

The film's story and message is clear.

The action is fresh, original, readable and gets the adrenaline flowing.

The atmosphere is clearly defined.

The production design is inspired.

Christian Bale and Emily Watson are superb.

The ending is satisfying.


*More power to Wimmer and Bale! I look forward to "Ultraviolet" and "Batman Begins".
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Put down the Valium and watch this film
BrandtSponseller9 March 2005
Set in a future, post-World War III society where emotions have been outlawed, Equilibrium tells the story of John Preston (Christian Bale), a government agent who begins to have doubts about the policy he is enforcing.

Equilibrium is the perfect example why I do not rate lower for derivativeness or unoriginality. The film is basically high-concept combination of Fahrenheit 451 (1966), George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (original published in 1949, film versions appeared in 1954, 1956 and 1984), The Matrix (1999) and a bit of The Wizard of Oz (1939) thrown in for good measure. What matters is not how original the ideas are (assuming it's not a case of plagiarism), as whether something is original or not is an epistemological problem that tells us more about our own familiarity with other material rather than the precedent status of the artwork we're questioning, but how well the material is handled. The high-concept material in Equilibrium is handled brilliantly.

On its surface, after a brief action-oriented beginning, Equilibrium is basically a progression from a fairly complex sci-fi film (meaning simply that it takes a lot of exposition to get up to speed) to a thriller to a "gun fu"-styled actioner. The progression is carried out deftly by writer/director Kurt Wimmer (who unfortunately hasn't shown the same level of elegant panache in other films I've seen from him, including Sphere (1998) and The Recruit (2003)), with all of the genres somewhat present throughout the film. Wimmer is so austerely slick here that Equilibrium sometimes resembles a postmodernist automobile commercial. The transition from genre to genre is incredibly smooth.

The most impressive material on this surface level is the gun fu action stuff, which almost "out-Matrixes" The Matrix in style, if not volume. Preston is so skilled to be an almost invincible opponent. His solitary misstep as a fighter occurs once he gives himself over to emotion. This is nicely related to the common advice from kung fu senseis that emotion lessens one's effectiveness in combat.

Of course a big part of Equilibrium is the set of philosophical points it has to make about emotion. There are sections of the film that are appropriately dialogue-heavy, and Wimmer is more than conspicuous with this (one of two) primary theme(s). Just as important as dialogue for Wimmer's commentary on man's emotions are body language and behavior. Some viewers might see it as a flaw that characters frequently show what they consider to be signs of emotions in their comments or behavior, but that's part of Wimmer's agenda. Because it's difficult to even say just what counts as an emotion, and emotions are so wrapped-up with being sentient beings, it would be difficult if not impossible to fully eliminate them, and it's certainly not recommendable. The cast does an excellent job of portraying characters who are supposed to be mostly emotionless but with cracks in the stoic armor continually poking through.

Wimmer has a harsh view of our society's self-medication epidemic--even the title of the film seems to be a stab at the common claim that drugs like Prozac and Xanax are taken to help one "smooth out", or "equalize", extremes of mood, or extreme dispositions. The Equilibrium government extends this agenda into the tangible material realm as they also attempt to "smooth out" mood swings by eliminating any cultural artifacts that might promote varied moods/emotions. Wimmer seems to see it as a not-too-exaggerated extension of the modus operandi behind Prozac-like drugs.

The other primary theme is one of institutional control. Wimmer has a lot to say about unquestioningly following authorities, and he's careful to show that it's not just governmental authorities that can be a problem. He does this by tightly wrapping religious allegory with his depiction of Equilibrium's government. The leader is known as "Father", and the government secret service members are "clerics". Those outside of this control are shown as authentic, free, individualistic and happy despite the hardships involved with their embrace of forbidden thought/items.

More subtly, Wimmer employs the now overused washed out blue-gray cinematography of late 1990s/early 2000s genre films towards an unusual end. It's not just a stylistic device here, but represents a particular kind of reality. Under the purview of the fascistic government, blue-gray predominates. When glimpses of freedom/authenticity enter the film, the blue-gray look is gone, replaced with strongly saturated warm colors, and occasionally a more nostalgic subdued tone. This is one of the film's similarities to The Wizard of Oz, although maybe not the most significant one.

If you're someone who cherishes originality for its own sake, you might not like Equilibrium as much, but you have much more serious epistemological problems to sort out. Otherwise, this is a film worth watching and thinking about.
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Worth seeing twice in two consecutive days (which I did.)
straightarrow8 December 2002
I went in to see "Equilibrium" with no knowledge of the movie other than a two line synopsis from a local newspaper and the movie poster in the theater lobby. As usual, I was practicing my theory of "lowered expectations." I expect a movie to be horribly awful ahead of time, so I can not be disappointed. I was not disappointed. At the end of the film I could not sit still in my seat. I felt the urge to go out into the world and proclaim the utter awesomeness of "Equilibrium." Such words as "Sweet," "Crazy," and "Righteous" sprang forth from my lips in rapid succession when I talked about the movie with my friends. Not since the "Fellowship of the Ring" have I desired to sing a movie's praises. And I mean literally SING. "Equilibrium" could, and should, be the sleeper hit of the year. The film's action sequences stir up the blood and pump the adrenaline as if you were riding a roller-coaster. The art style, while minimalistic, and thus maybe confused for low-budget by some, is actually quite successful in portraying a totalitarian and emotionless society. The acting is excellent as well, and quite possibly the best I have seen in an action film in long time. While the nay-sayers will say that the film is too unoriginal, borrowing elements of its story and premise from "Fahrenheit 451" and "Brave New World," these complaints can be disregarded as the movie adds enough of its own style and story to make the comparisons plausible in basic premise only. In the end, like any movie, "Equilibrium" is meant as entertainment. And entertain it does. It does it so very well. It mixes action and with substantial plot and original style to make an excellent whole. Go see it. Go see it twice. Go see "Equilibrium," Cleric.
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Surprisingly Good!
Mylene-220 July 2005
I watched this movie late one night on one of the Encore channels. Stayed up past my bedtime I did. Then I recorded it the next time it was on. Watched it two more times and then, AND THEN, bought the DVD and watched it a couple if not three more times. First, I rarely will watch a movie twice unless enough time has passed that I have forgotten how it ends. There are just too many movies out there and not enough time. But this movie deserved the time. I loved the fight scenes, loved the premise of the movie, loved the acting (and seeing Christian Bale shirtless). Emily Watson is an amazing actress. It's rare these days to see an action/SciFi with actual plot and dialog. How can I care about a movie if I don't care about the characters? Anyway, watch it. I've lent the movie to about 5 guys and they all liked it. One guy is into the Martial Arts and he thought the fight scenes were awesome (my word -- his word/s was/were "the fight scenes were well choreographed").

Moral of the story is: watch it, you won't be disappointed. Oh, and I said "Surprisingly Good" because I had never heard of the movie and was expecting some B movie crap -- what can I say, I couldn't sleep.
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Cult movie extraordinaire?
juniper-1410 December 2004
I've seen this movie 5 times (it's the nature of satellite TV) within the past week and it's true...you catch something you've missed or see something new with every successive viewing. This movie is way ahead of its time, and much better than the over-rated Matrix. Bale is always exceptional, and so is his "Metroland" co-star, Emily Watson. Maybe it's the Anglophile or Brit-flick fan in me, but I must say that the added presence of Sean Bean and Angus MacFadyen all but confirms the pre-eminence of UK acting in quality films. Accompanied by very appropriate techno-musik, the action sequences are fast and Euro-flashy, heavily influenced by Jan De Bont--different from the weird, drawn-out, "suspended/string puppet" thing that apparently passes for martial arts these days. (I miss Bruce Lee)

Anyway, if you haven't seen it, give this a shot. If you already have & weren't impressed, take a look at it again. It will grow on you. See if you're inclined to show up to work the next day looking and acting very much a "Cleric" who missed a Prozium dose.
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Forget the Matrix, indeed.
kogomethestampede11 December 2004
If you are a fan of such books as Brave New World, 1984, The Giver, or This Perfect Day or movies like the Matrix and Logan's Run--Equilibrium is just the movie for you. In addition to a terrifying plot set in our very own future, the movie has mind-blowing action sequences that are choreographed beautifully (but not obviously) and shot brilliantly and spectacular acting on the part of Christian Bale. I hate predictable movies and this one is anything but...there are so many twists and turns, you'll be on the edge of your seat with suspense the majority of the time. I was hooked within the first minute! Whether you love action or a great plot line, this movie gives the Matrix trilogy (especially Reloaded and Revolutions) a run for its money--to say the least.
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A rare dose of originality
mentalcritic6 November 2004
If there is one complaint about the Hollywood system that rings true, it is that Hollywood seems quite bereft of ideas. Then films like Equilibrium come out and remind us that it's not that we're out of ideas so much as we're just not trying hard enough. Not that Equilibrium is inherently new - it borrows a fair few plot concepts from Farenheit 451 and Nineteen Eighty-Four, to name the most prominent examples. It is the way in which the old ideas are combined with the new that makes Equilibrium a fun and underrated experience.

The premise is simple enough. In a kneejerk reaction to the horrors of World War Three, the survivors outlaw what they blame the chaos upon. Their own emotions, in other words. As the lead character has a series of revelations, we begin to understand that in so doing, they have also outlawed much of what gives our existence a point. In the bland, lifeless world that the law-abiding citizens inhabit, everything that the audience takes for granted to make their lives worthwhile is being systematically destroyed. Shades of the America of today, the whole principle of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, are shown in a stark horror show.

I've read people comparing this film to The Matrix or its sequels. Where The Matrix series' fights were overlong, and often with no payoff, Equilibrium's fights are short and to the point. The difference this makes is, needless to say, as uplifting as Preston's fight to regain the humanity he stripped so many others of. Instead of having fights with no emotional connection to the characters, the story is given sufficient development to make the audience care what happens.

The film is not entirely without flaws. The Prozium element seems to have been written with no regard for the facts about psychiatric medicines. Their purpose is not to suppress emotion at all, but to balance the chemical system of the brain in order to give the patient better control of them. Sure, they're not without problems of their own, but exaggerating them like this does not do the portion of the community that needs them any favours. That aside, however, the on-camera struggle is one of the most intriguing I've viewed for some time. Ergo, this minor plot problem is made up for. The only other real complaint I have is that the film could have done with a little more footage to give some characters more of a chance to develop.

I gave Equilibrium an eight out of ten. It's not the best negative science fiction you'll ever see, but it is enough of a breath of fresh air that this won't entirely matter. If the MPAA made more films like this, it wouldn't be suffering the constant financial dire straits that it so loves to blame everyone else for.
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Unexpected pearl
kabal-222 March 2005
The "Equilibrium" is one of the very little action movies that actually make sense! The script was influenced by many books and it worked! The film is really great, quick action, combined with a brilliantly stated philosophical question, breathtaking scenes with lots of effects, superb actors! It perfectly balances on the verge between just a high-budget nonsense action film (despite it's low budget) and extremely boring science-fiction film. It was quite a nice surprise when I watched it, because the director is not famous! And there was not any Hollywood superstar but all and the acting is amazingly great! Like the actors completely fit in their roles and ruthlessly overwhelm the weak script parts! I still remember the change of the emphasis when the main character changed sides! With this performance it is a serious competitor of "the matrix" or maybe more!

Although one little remark must be made in the beginning, when cleric Preston enters the barricaded room with the rebels, some shooting scenes are the same!

But I guess there is not a good film without a little weakness in it, is it?
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it was good
kill-59 December 2004
I think this movie was a good movie, and I also think that most critics were unjustified in their reasoning for panning it. Almost seems like a conspiracy. Anyway, the story was interesting, it set up some kind of a reality where we have this "gun kata", and stuck with it. The "gun kata" never became a deus ex machina, it just drove the action sequences, while staying clear of the actual plot, which had some interesting twists, certainly more than the matrix. I think Christian Bale's character was a kind of clone of keanu reeves in the Matrix, but he is clearly a better actor, and his range was really challenged. The other characters were much less "wooden" and comic book like than the evil characters in the matrix, which ironically made them more human, almost too human for an action movie, and that is probably why the critics were so hard on it. The matrix (at least the first one) didn't take itself too seriously, but this one did...and I think it lived up to the challenge as much as any action movie set in the distant future with some reality bending. I really enjoyed it, and would have liked to see it in the theatre, none the less a great rent if you liked the first matrix, kill bill, or any other film that blends action with choreography and weaves an interesting tale of reality. My suggestion might have been more extreme antagonists, but then, perhaps this movie will help me accept more human-like villains in action movies. Anyway give it a try!
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A waste of their money and my time
adamk-217 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
It looks good.

Well, that's the positive aspect of this film out of the way.

Quite simply, it's amazing that this film even got made, being nothing more than a sorry, derivative ragbag of pilfered ideas, with not a single one of its own to justify its existence. The nearest one can come to describing this Frankenstein monster of a travesty is "1984" crossed with "The Matrix", and the latter wasn't exactly blindingly original to begin with.

As if this isn't bad enough, the film is loaded with inconsistencies and plot holes, all shoddily papered over in the name of convenience as well as scenes and dialogue so hackneyed you can see them coming a mile off (and if you can't, you should really see more films. Preferably good ones). I actually uttered one line seconds before the character did, and had to stifle risible laughter when Preston came face to face with the itty bitty, cutesy-wutesy puppy. (In this scene, please note that the budget – having probably been spent all on bullets – didn't seem to stretch to any sort of animal training, as it relies on actors pointing off-camera and saying, "Stop it! It's getting away!" and reaching down, most unconvincingly).

Laughter, in fact, is the only realistic response to the majority of this farrago, if only to stave off the angry realisation that your time is being wasted. You want laughs?

AND HERE BE SPOILERS (although it's kind of hard to spoil something that's already this rank, IMHO)

In the lead up to the "climactic" fight, one character warns Preston that, should he get too close to"Father" (highly original name for a "Big Brother" figure, eh? Lucky they didn't call him "Uncle" or "Second Cousin Twice Removed") he'll be shot down by snipers. When the spit hits the fan, however, there are no snipers, not a one: only an endless parade of policemen, doing what they do best throughout: dying. Honest, these guys, despite their fierce get-up, turn out to be the most useless, butter-fingered cannon-fodder since the Imperial Stormtroopers in the original "Star Wars" (and countless other Z-grade imitations). Once you realise that they couldn't hit a barn door at ten feet and that their tactics seem to consist of merely lining up to get gunned down, you're left with no tension, nothing at stake and only the tedious sight of moronic sitting ducks being blown away, noisily, time and time and time and time again.

It doesn't help that, having walked Preston into a trap and taken his weapon, they don't think to search him for anything else, leaving him free to conceal guns and an abundance of spare ammo, as well as a complicated reloading mechanism...all up his sleeves. Good thing nobody shook his hand.

This is the film's idea of a "twist": a development so implausible, so gobsmackingly unlikely that it's an insult to any intelligent film-goer.

"Equilibrium" is the kind of film so shoddily made and yet so pretentious, it just cries out for a parody, or to be taken apart on any of the countless "Bad Film" sites that are on the net. It meets all the criteria for a Bad Film, that's for damned sure. It's one thing to be unoriginal –only a certain number of plots in the world, yada yada – but it's another thing to be quite so offensively cack-handed about it.
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but seriously... Could Christian Bale be any better?
IrisGoeth16 April 2008
My review is one on Christian Bale rather than the movie per se. His going from stone-cold to an emotional man is simply flawless. He gets to transmit everything the story needs at the right time. Bale is the greatest actor of his generation and never afraid to get his hands REALLY dirty. He's played a highly controversial psycho (in an admittedly light version of a really crude and insightful novel... But you realise after you watch him, every time you read the novel again HE IS Patrick Bateman), a LITERALLY starving and tormented loner (please see The Machinist if only for his PERFECT, ground-breaking work of art, which includes both his acting skills and his beyond-emaciated body), a hopeful gay teenager turned hopeless adult (Velvet Goldmine, where he's amazingly accurate in a minor -as length goes- role and you really believe he's a shy and lively teenager and minutes later you believe he's a weary, melancholy adult), a conflicted superhero (the best Batman by far, followed by Michael Keaton of course) and all sorts of middle-of-the-road characters. He's not your average mainstream star and he'll never be, I hope... He's too much in love with his work to become that. Good for him.

Equilibrium is a very fine movie. Highly entertaining, the score was more than okay, the casting does a really good job (I liked The Matrix -although I prefer Equilibrium's sobriety and rhythm, which many may find boring-, but come on... The actors were inferior and I'm sorry but Keanu Reeves just can't make it. Where Bale is all complex, nuanced and charismatic, Reeves is just handsome wood) and the fight scenes are beautiful to look at. Cons are the Father, who seemed too weak to me, and the ending which doesn't do justice to what comes before. In any case, this is an above-average sci-fi flick. Take a look.
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"Equilibrium" is really hard to type.
Anonymous_Maxine23 March 2008
I bought Equilibrium just because Christian Bale is in it. To tell you the truth I was certain that it was going to be a goofy, direct-to-video sci-fi fiasco that most involved would just as soon forget. The cover box reminded me of Universal Soldier. As it turns out however, it's not a movie that those involved want to forget, it's an overlooked gem, no doubt because it came at the height of the Matrix craze, which it may resemble in too many ways. Unfortunately, too many people will callously write it off as a Matrix rip-off, and it's a shame because this is one of the best science fiction films to have come along in quite some time.

It takes place in the far off 21st century, but it's not about the future (given that it exists in a future that can't ever exist), it's about the disturbing reality that war is a part of human nature, and in order to eradicate it from the modern world we would have to become a homogenized society of emotionless, drug-controlled zombies. No jokes about that already being a reality.

The movie's biggest assertion is that it assigns blame for man's inhumanity to man to his ability to feel (ignoring the real causes, such as religion, political power, and less dogmatic things like national pride and human rights). The current government is based on enforcing the mass removal of emotion from the masses using a drug called Prozium, and is the source of the movie's main irony, that in order to eradicate war, it has waged war on all of it's own citizens, who constantly live under close surveillance.

The government employs Grammaton Clerics to handle that surveillance. They are highly trained officers authorized to kill anyone they deem to be "sense offenders" on the spot ("I trust you'll be more vigilant in the future?"). There is, in fact, a staggering amount of irony in the film, given that all emotion or feeling is strictly forbidden under penalty of death, and yet anger, suspicion and fear are all alive and well, and even flaunted. It's also interesting to consider that in real life it is the dogmatic, Cleric-like believers who aspire for war, and the normal people who just want to live their lives.

For the most part the movie ignores the fact that it is governments that wage war, not citizens (even emotionally sensitive ones), but no matter. The important thing that you need to know about the movie is that it goes way, way too far, and because of that, it's fun. I cheered out loud several times during the film because the gun fights, which are so unrealistic it's almost funny, are genuinely well-choreographed and exciting. If I may say so, this is what gun fights in hard core science fiction movies should look like.

Many people criticize the movie for being unrealistic or too extreme, altogether forgetting what kind of movie they're watching in the first place. The movie is not about moral dilemmas, even though the main character suffers a tremendous one, it's a fast, gritty science fiction movie that makes no apologies, and owes none. The characterization may be just a little heavy (Bale's character going from not understanding a question about what he felt when his wife was incinerated to having a soft spot for puppies, etc.), but like another outstanding and equally over-the-top film, Shoot 'Em Up, nothing is out of place. All of the excesses look right at home.

It is interesting to consider the real-world implications of the content of the movie though, regardless of how unrealistic it is. The totalitarian regime, for example, resembles Mao Tse- tung's manner of oppression with startling closeness, even down to the children spying on and reporting their parents. Under Mao, children who reported their parents engaging in "counter'-revolutionary activities" were publicly hailed as national heroes while their parents were generally tortured and executed. Whether the crimes were real or not was unimportant, what mattered is that, as you can imagine, in a society where people were so easily made to desperately fear their own children, you can imagine the level of control the government (Mao) had over the people. Something similar happens in this movie.

The similarities to The Matrix films are obvious, but limited mostly to superficial things like the fight scenes and some costumes. Thematically, the movies are totally different, and even with all of the similarities, this movie is more than able to stand on its own, and any similarities are more just an unfortunate bit of timing, as this is probably what caused the movie to be so overlooked. If you can't handle a little excess in the movies, definitely stay away from this one. But if you can watch a movie just for a good time, you could do a lot worse than this.

Note: Keep your eye out for Dominic Purcell, Prison Break's Lincoln Burrows, in the opening scene. He should have had a bigger role in the movie...
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Has it's moments & is an OK Sci-Fi action thriller.
poolandrews15 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Equilibrium is set in the 21st Century where after World War III the state of Libira has been formed by it's founder Father (Sean Pertwee), there all emotion has been declared illegal & the population have their emotions blocked with a drug named Prozium. All artwork, culture & feeling is banned & punishable by instant execution by the hard as nails police force The Tetragrammaton Clerics. John Preston (Christian Bale) is a top level cleric who is so hard as nails he stood by while his wife & the mother of his young son was convicted of a 'sense offence' & cremated alive. However John accidentally misses one of his Prozium doses & the human emotion & feeling starts to come back to him, he quickly realises that the society which he works for is wrong & corrupt & humans have the right to feel. John teams up with a gang of underground rebels to bring Father & his emotionless society down...

Written & directed by Kurt Wimmer I must admit that I am in two minds over Equilibrium, on the one hand it's quite an engaging Sci-Fi thriller that does occasionally strike a chord & makes you think but on the other hand the whole concept is so poorly thought out & impossible to buy into that I spent the whole film asking questions that were never answered. The idea of a future enclosed society in which a Fascist Government or regime tries to exert total control over it's population & one lone inside rebel sets out to do something about it has been done before in various Sci-Fi films & books like THX 1138 (1971), Demolition Man (1993) & George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eigthy Four (1949) along with ripping-off other Sci-Fi flicks like the empathy test from Blade Runner (1982) & of course The Matrix (1999) inspired action scenes in which the frankly silly sounding concept of someone being able to mathematically work out where someone will fire bullets & therefore avoid them (named 'Gun Kata') is used. In fact there are a lot of clichés in Equilibrium & the basic concept is flawed since Libira seems to be one city but what about the rest of the world? Would they not still have emotion? Who would join such a society anyway? The basic idea that all emotion is suppressed is just hard to swallow as well, it just wouldn't work under the ultra strict conditions in Equilibrium. Having said that if you can get past the shaky concept & writing then the character's are alright, the story moves along & there's some decent action scenes & ideas but the basic concept which I don't think works at all is it's biggest flaw.

The action scenes do look like they have come straight out of The Matrix & in fact are inferior, there's certainly not a lot of action so don't expect fights & shoot-outs every few minutes. The depiction of the future is reasonable, it's not that different than it is now apart from the basic morals of the society, the actual technology doesn't seem to advanced as people still drive around in cars & live in apartment blocks. As you would expect from a film set in an emotionless society the production design is deliberately bland yet stylish, people wear blacks & greys, apartments are bare with no colour or carpets or wallpaper & even everyone looks the same.

With a supposed budget of about $20,000,000 this was actually fairly low budget & that probably accounts for a not too spectacular vision of the future. Filmed in Germany & Italy before some re-shoots in Canada. The acting is alright although Sean Bean has nothing more than a three minute cameo despite near top billing in the credits.

Equilibrium is a film that within itself works quite well & is entertaining enough but for a Sci-Fi film that takes itself extremely seriously the plot & concepts therein don't stand up at all. I liked & disliked it in equal measure.
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Spectacular film - better than the well-known Matrix
hiddenattacker20 July 2005
This movie has a spectacular plot (post-apocalyptic world war III), and thus a fascist regime in which feelings, emotions, and so forth are abhorred. Taye Diggs does a great job as Brandt, who takes over as Preston's assistant. I would have liked to have seen more of Sean Bean, but his presence was known anyhow. Christian Bale does an excellent job playing Grammaton Cleric John Preston. The action scenes in this movie surpass those of the once hailed Matrix (1999). The plot builds throughout the film to a brilliant climax near the end. This movie is one of my favorite action movies of all time with both a good plot, stellar acting, and excellent cinematography. Easily a 10/10 or ****/****
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Fascinating Action/Sci-Fi Film!, That's Very Engrossing, And Always Surprising!, With An Amazing Performance From Christian Bale!
callanvass22 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is a fascinating Action/Sci-Fi film that's very engrossing, and always surprising, with an amazing performance from Christian Bale!. All the characters are awesome, and the story is fantastic and constantly unpredictable, plus Christian Bale is simply amazing in this!. It's a little slow to get going, but pretty soon after wards i really got into the story,and while i didn't get all that was going at certain points i was still fascinated all the same!, plus Taye Diggs was great as the villain, as was the other one!. The ending has a shocking twist, and it has some spectacular gun battles and fight scenes!, plus i wish Sean Bean didn't have to get killed of so soon. The character development is awesome!, and i thought the plot while complicated was really excellent!, plus some scenes gave me the chills.There were some really shocking scenes, and the film had a disturbing feel to it, plus i found it quite creative!. This is a fascinating Action/Sci-Fi film, that's very engrossing and always surprising, with an amazing performance from Christian Bale!, and i say it's a must see for everyone!. The Direction is excellent!.Kurt Wimmer does an excellent job here, with stunning camera work,fantastic angles, wonderful slow mo shots, and lots of other great creative shots as well!. The Acting is wonderful!. Christian Bale is AMAZING as always, and is amazing here, he is incredibly tense, extremely likable, always unpredictable, had a very mysterious character, carried the film,had a lot of character, and you can't take your eyes off him when he's on screen, and amazing performance indeed! (Bale Rules!!). Taye Diggs is great here as one of the villains, and while i wanted to slap that smile off his face at times, he was quite effective, for the most part, i just wished he had more screen time. Emily Watson is great here, and can do these roles in her sleep!,i liked her lots. Sean Bean sadly only has a cameo, but it's a damn cool one at that! (Bean Rules!). Rest of the cast do fine. Overall a must see for everyone!. ****1/2 out of 5
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Enjoyable sci-fi despite the low budget and the recognisable style
bob the moo13 March 2004
After the third world war had ended, the survivors realised that mankind would not be able to survive much longer if it didn't tackle the thing that makes them fight - emotion. To tackle the drive to hurt and hate, the Government issues drugs to sedate the populace from the highs or lows of feeling. Meanwhile the police round up those who still feel and destroy art, books and anything that would stir feeling. The heads of these police are the elite Clerics. John Preston has always been a Cleric, but the failure of his partner and an encounter with a feeler start him thinking and feeling.

With sighs of `matrix clone' and `cashing in', I, like many viewers overlooked this film in favour of other things that may have come across as more original. However, in the mood for a bit of slick action, I rented this film and was pleasantly surprised by it. The plot may not be original - but what is these days? The film has shades of 1984 and Brave New World about it and it uses these ideas reasonably well. The concept does fall down a little bit with too much thought but on the surface it works well enough to suffice for a sci-fi action movie - the running time doesn't allow for much more than superficial thought here, although there is enough in this future to be thought provoking.

The action is good considering the low budget involved here. Yes, it's all very much thanks to the influence of the Matrix but at least it is quite stylish and exciting in it's own right rather than just being a lazy copy. The action scenes are well spread out over the film and they have good pace despite being very much style over substance. The explanation for all the acrobatics and semi-invincibility here is not as good as the explanation/justification for the same in Matrix, but again it is acceptable for this level of film. If anything, the plot goes too fast and too far - it is difficult to accept that things happen so fast, but generally it works.

The cast is a strange mix but works. The thing that surprised me was the sheer number of British actors in the cast. Bale is good in the lead role despite his American accent, he is pretty cool and manages to do the emotional change required despite the rush enforced on him by the film. Diggs is disappointing - his character doesn't get enough screentime and he doesn't fulfil the role of rival to Bale, he is a good looking guy but that isn't enough here. The support cast features Bean, Pertwee, Connelly, Fincher and McFadyen but really it is totally Bale's movie and he does pretty well to make it together.

Overall this is not a great film but it is an enjoyable action sci-fi that manages to produce an interesting, if unoriginal plot and some slick and fun action that is no less slick or fun for being a low rent version of The Matrix's effects. Well worth a Friday night look!
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Cliched and miserable attempt to unite the geniuses of Brave New World, 1984, and the Matrix. Utter filth.
ryanmeray7 December 2002
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 it. Then proceeded to speed home, so I could take an extremely violent crap. 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.

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 Librium, 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 emotionless. This is aided by the destruction of all art, music, and cultural relics, not to mention 3 doses a day of the aforementioned Librium injection.

Those who forsake the drug are known as "Sense Offenders," and these criminals are tended to by an elite class of soldiers known as 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, 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 Librium doses, he doesn't seem to mind much. Watching this movie, I suddenly wished they made a drug which made horrible movies good.

All is well and good in emotionless Libria, until Preston accidentally knocks a vial of his Librium off the bathroom sink, and doesn't have time to pick up another dose. 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 that 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 gunfight 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 gunman 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 and the One, 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. And 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.
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Decent dystopian thriller
Tweekums31 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
When I sat down to watch this I expected to see a sci-fi action thriller; while it does feature plenty of action and there are science fiction elements one shouldn't expect lots of cool futuristic vehicles at weapons. Equilibrium is set in the near future after a third world war; in order to prevent future war a drug has been developed to suppress all human emotion. This has not led to a Utopia however; this future is very much a dystopia; anybody who is suspected of committing 'sense crimes' is executed without trial; this summary justice is carried out by 'clerics' such a John Preston; a man so devoid of emotion that he executed his own partner and barely batted an eyelid when his wife was taken to be incinerated. That is until one day he fails to take the emotion-suppressing drug. As time passes his feelings get deeper and he realises that he must fight against the system; a fight that could mean sacrificing innocent people to get close to Father; the leader of this emotionless world.

This was rather better than I had expected; the dystopian world was genuinely chilling, it became clear that anybody could die when John Preston's partner was killed early on; as he was played by Sean Bean I was sure he'd be a major character. Christian Bale put in a fine performance as Preston and Emily Watson was fine as Mary; a woman he arrests. If there was a major flaw it was the ending; I prefer my dystopian dramas to be a bit more downbeat. Instead of such an ending Preston goes on a rampage skilfully slaughtering dozens of police before confronting his Nemesis. While the action was spectacular and well choreographed it was a bit too stylish. Still it was a decent film overall and I'd recommend checking it out.
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Equilibrium is better than everyone expected...!
darbs26412 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Yes, I can truly say that i enjoyed this movie. The film was almost totally centred around the characterisation of Bale's "clerk" figure. His performance was as ever slick, and for most the the performance - genuine. His character was well portrayed and really captured the transition from his initial robotic persona, to his latter more emotionally free state of mind. This was illustrated both in his professional life and his social interactions and really showed how his entire existence was shaped totally by the numbing of emotion. Some great ideas and proficient acting, not to mention lots of traditional "destroying the place" action mixed in, really gives this movie the edge over many other similar titles within the broad action genre.
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ColinChapman13 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Plan 9 from outer space was bad but at least it had a heart and was unintentionally funny.Equilibrium on the other hand is dreadful in ways I cannot describe.It is painfully obvious it copies Fahrenheit451,the Matrix,THX1138,Brave New World,Logan's run,1984,Metropolis to name a few.Kids that have never seen above mentioned believe they're getting a new idea.Add a absurd plot about feelings being the cause of war.Gun-Kata made me laugh out loudly.Statistics can make you dodge bullets,what a crazy idea.According to the story they shouldn't feel a thing yet the boss of Bale's hits his fist on the table in rage,clearly he is feeling.His rival is apparently jealous of him and has a smirk in his face.The soldiers show fear and panic.There's plenty of feelings in all of them!In fact the whole premise that feelings cause wars is laughably silly.If we felt more we could feel sympathy of the victims and never go to war due to stupid politicians.Oh,and the puppy scene made me say loudly:"What a seriously bad movie!".Kurt-the idiot-Wimmer wondered how he could convince the audience how cruel the society was and thought:"hey everybody loves cute puppies,let them kill puppies to provoke disgust among the audience".Clearly he is a totally incompetent writer and has a mindset of a 7 year old.I wish they could find all copies of this turd of a movie and burn them.It flopped but found buyers on DVD for some strange reason.Anyway Kurt-the idiot-Wimmer later did Ultraviolet which was both a critic-and audience mega-flop so we won't see more of his ultra crappy movies in all likelihood.Obviously the studio saw his version of Ultraviolet and were shocked how bad it was,so they cut it down heavily and marketed it as a brain-less action-flick,but it flopped anyway.Hopefully this dung-heap of a movie will fall into obscurity and oblivion in a few years time.On the rottentomatoes site this movie got a rotten rating at 32%.The majority of course saw the movie as unbelievably stupid but I was totally convinced this movie clearly should have had a 0% rating there.Some critics like the action.I thought that was lame too.Anyway avoid this movie like the plague.If you like it seek help.
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One of the most passionate and emotional movies I've ever seen...
invincible_irvine2 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
"Equilibrium" is one of the most passionate and emotional movies I've ever seen, and this comes from a movie that depicts a society that exists based on the concept that emotion and passion are the very things that led to the destruction of humanity, which is why feelings have been banned in the movie.

Starring Christian Bale, who in 2002 wasn't really the big name celebrity that he is today, Taye Diggs, Sean Bean, Emily Watson, William Fichtner and Angus McFayden, this movie is classified as science fiction, but there's far more drama than sci-fi and even action. But the few action scenes in the movie are spectacularly choreographed and executed, mimicking and even exceeding "The Matrix" in fight scene presentation. In this movie, I deemed the action warranted and necessary, while in "The Matrix," action is emotionless and usually unnecessary.

It's amazing how well Bale composed himself while playing a character whose strength was drawn from a lack of compassion or feeling: to him, human emotion is the disease that must be suppressed and controlled. But as he regains his humanity, his passion and love for the feelings he has regained leads him to strike back against the hand that has raised and trained him to become a lethal force against the things that he has come to love.

Although very few people watched this movie, which opened and played in less than 50 screens nationwide, we all now have the opportunity to view and appreciate this most gripping and fascinating movie with some of the most incredible action sequences I've ever seen.
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How derivative can one movie be?
NamelessCynic18 March 2008
Three years after "The Matrix" became a multi-million dollar hit, we get "Equilibrium." But just stealing from one movie wasn't enough. This movie also had to steal plot elements from "Fahrenheit 451" and "1984." Interestingly, "The Matrix" was stealing elements from Hong Kong action films, which means that "Equilibrium" has second-generation plagiarism going on.

There is not a single original thought or idea in this movie. They take their costume designs from the Nazi's and Stalinist Russia, their concept of the cities from Judge Dredd, and their soulless anti-hero coming to grips with his own humanity from... hell, it's probably a story you'll find carved in hieroglyphs inside ancient Egyptian tombs.

I've got to say, the "gun kata" is the silliest idea I've seen in years... well, OK, after the idea that a government would make owning a painting illegal because it might cause an emotional response.

The idea behind the "gun kata" is that you can figure out where the enemy is and shoot him based on mathematical principles. And in the perfect "Equilibrium" world, the enemy DOES seem to stand in formation, or surround you in a perfect circle. In real life, it's just trying to give a martial-arts explanation for a semi-mystic ability to shoot everybody around you.

Christian Bale seems to be continuing to act by showing as little emotion as possible. (Yeah, he cracks a few times, but he's well inside his "American Psycho"/"Batman Begins" comfort zone. And Boromir is wasted in what's essentially an extended cameo.

I watched it all the way through, just to see how they were going to tie it all up. My wife gave up on it halfway through, and I'd be a happier person today if I'd done the same.
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Familiar ingredients, singular experience.
kinglet26 July 2005
A 9 out of 10 only for some budget deficiencies that show a bit. By all means skip the director commentary because its all whining about lack of funds. Understandable, but obnoxious to sit through.

Let me just comment on a few things not much mentioned in the customer reviews. First, despite what's stated by many and even the IMDb plot summary, the population shown here is not drugged to the point of being "emotionless". People have to feel enough to care about family, obeying the rules, succeeding at their jobs, etc. Rather, the highs and lows of emotion have been chemically eliminated. Although this is taught from birth to be necessary for "sense" purity, the real reason is that it makes it easier for a repressive regime to stay in power and at least partially prevent rebellion. And for anyone who thinks the mass public attendance of televised political harangues is unrealistic, go rent "Triumph of the Will" by the chronicler of Nazi ascendancy, Leni Riefenstahl. And remind yourself that Hitler's adoring masses weren't even drugged.

Second, although the drug is used to control emotions, its good old indoctrination that dictates behavior. The drugged state is reinforced by every mind control practice you can think of. Children are rewarded for ratting out parents, friends tattle on friends, etc. While the immediate reward is continued survival of the ratter at the expense of the rattee, you still get the sense that even children can feel some level of satisfaction in having earned brownie points, done their "duty", cleansed their family, whatever. Careful watching or re-watching of this movie shows that people around the edges of the main characters express flickers of emotion according to their job status, with those in more regular jobs having less rein on their responses. By contrast one key character is obviously off his meds, though some viewers seem to think this was either bad acting or some kind of continuity error. Actually its important to the plot.

In a truly emotionless society no one would even bother to procreate or care for children. So even John Preston (Christian Bale) seems permitted to indicate a flicker of pride over his young son's acceptance into the cleric training school, which he expresses right in front of the most important boss he has. From what we see its only he and his fellow Grammaton Clerics who are trained to squelch their emotions entirely, as well they might since they are the cruel enforcement arm of their society's vicious goals.

Third, Bale deserves a lot of credit for the way this movie succeeds. He does a wonderful job of making us care about a nearly-expressionless man who sets his own liberation in motion through one simple accident (or is it?) while brushing his teeth, a small personal cleansing that suggests bigger things are coming. He's soon slammed hard by emotions he's never been allowed to feel, emotions that both intrigue and frighten him and which he dare not express. Its almost worth the price of rental/purchase to see him play a man hearing his first music, or sitting and watching his children sleep late one night. Even as we realize he's feeling paternal love to a degree he's never felt it before, the fact remains he still can't show it and his kids can't know it or they'll turn him in. By the time he reviews a key event in his personal life, you can feel its horrific impact on him by the merest flicker of reaction on his face, and in the tiniest changes in body language. The tension between what he realizes and feels and what he dares to show builds to an agonizing sub-climax that sets the finale in motion.

Fourth, the ironic different between what is expected of people in this dark future and how human nature really operates is used to great effect. Preston's special skill as a cleric is his ability to anticipate what lies beneath, what's behind the wall, what his quarry is thinking. In other words, to sense. This makes him suspect as well as valuable to his masters. The feeling of personal jeopardy builds wonderfully as he experiences more and struggles harderto hide it, particularly as he realizes his special mission is being scrutinized by his new partner.

The best sci-fi is never about technology, the best martial arts movies are never about the fighting. The human heart may never have perfect equilibrium, and this quiet little classic of a movie sure never got its due in a limited theatrical release. But its worth your time and then some.
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An overlooked gem that is DEFINITELY worth a look
mattymatt4ever30 May 2003
I won't hesitate to call this film a masterpiece! First of all, the premise is very original and brings up some interesting concepts. It's the 21st century, and all emotions have been outlawed. It sounds strange on the surface, but the society feels that emotions lead to conflict, which can lead to war and destruction. And having just finished World War 3, the society is fighting to make sure another war won't break out.

Now, THIS is a sci-fi plot I can relate to. This actually sounds like something that may happen in the future. This is none of your "Matrix" or "Star Wars Episode 1" mumbo-jumbo. I don't mind sci-fi as a genre, but for me to really be connected to a film, it has to be based in reality. And just because a movie stretches the truth, doesn't mean it shouldn't contain any truth. The "Matrix" films aren't based in reality; they're based in some crackhead alternate universe where a whole bunch of wacky things happen and the movie tries to make sense of it with a lot of pretentious sci-fi jargon that only geeks of the genre will fully absorb. I don't have to be a sci-fi geek to understand "Equilibrium."

Christian Bale gives one of the best performances in his career, and I really felt for his character and his struggle. There's also a great tension between his character and that of Taye Diggs, who envies his status as an officer. My favorite moment, which actually sent me to tears, was when the squad was sent to murder a large group of canines, and Bale becomes hesitant as he picks up one of the cute little puppies, and feels incredibly sympathetic towards it since he just started to feel emotion. And there's also a touching flashback, where his wife is arrested, yet he doesn't have any feelings about the event.

And I didn't even get to the spectacular action sequences, which are bound to give the Wachowski Brothers a run for their money! The film was made on a low budget, so the effects aren't as high-tech as in "The Matrix," but who said expensive effects make better action scenes? They're even better, since they don't depend highly on CGI. The scenes are so beautifully choreographed that I felt like I was watching a great John Woo film. But part of what made the scenes work was the fact that I fully sympathized with Bale's character and his goal to rebel against the society that's trying to put him and everyone else down.

I also love the wonderful score, which at times sounds like the one from "Broken Arrow"--which also worked wonderfully. Good films come more often than you assume, but great films don't. So I'm always proud to see a great film like this come along, and it's a damn shame that it didn't receive good distribution and probably made peanuts at the box office. Because this is a MUST-SEE!!! Screw "The Matrix"! "Equilibrium" is sci-fi at its best!

My score: 9 (out of 10)
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Not for Matrix fans
vilincica19 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
First of all many people are calling this movie a Farenheit 451, 1984, Brave new world, Logan's run, Matrix ripoff. I would have to be blind and deaf not to see the similarities. The idea of a "deluded" population living under a semi fascist regime that is supposed to bring peace and harmony is in no way new or original, but it was done in an interesting way and people who have never seen the movies I mentioned earlier or read the books might find it quite interesting.

The thing that bothers me the most is a the constant comparison with The Matrix. Yes there are some similarities here, especially the action scenes, but they are more believable in E. if you ask me, not that any action scene nowadays is totally believable when you think about it. One of my favorite things in Equilibrium are the subtle effects. No really big explosions, no hanging in the air, THERE IS A PLOT, such as it is and it is NOT spoiled by special effects and the action scenes just enhance it. As far as the story goes, The matrix also borrowed ideas and themes from the same movies and books as Equilibrium did, it just does it in a different way, (they both took the idea of a "special" society and a guy in the middle of it, realizing his world is not what he always thought it was and then fighting against it) and since the original part or The matrix idea was not in any way included in Equilibrium, we can easily conclude that as far as the story goes it could not borrow form The matrix (even if it did, and heavily so, from the older movies and books) Just pretend U never saw The Matrix and enjoy. There are other similarities like the light for example or maybe even the costumes, but if you think about what would you have them wear? Futuristic silver outfits??? Sadly there is the issue of predictability. If you have a twisted society under a dictator (in this case The Father) how could the plot not involve underground rebellion? :) There are many holes here of course. The plot doesn't always hold, the thing that bothered (possible SPOILERS) me the most was that the people were supposed to have no feelings, but Brandt (one of the clerics) clearly hates Preston and it that's not an emotion then I don't know what is : ). The idea of gun kata is well ... somebody said stupid and maybe that is a good word for it. If you like action/sci-fi movies where special effects take up half the movie this probably isn't for you, but maybe you should give it a try. It's a fun and stylish movie even if it's not perfect.
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