This-is-Dystopia!! Equilibrium (2002)
Directed by Kurt Wimmer
In a not so distant future where all forms of feelings are illegal, a man once in charge of enforcing the law, rises to overthrow a fascist system.The film’s setting take place within a fictional totalitarian state called Libria, where it’s population consists of survivors from World War 3, that was stimulated by man’s fueled rage and inability to control their emotions. Thus the explanation of why Libria’s populace are under suppressed emotions, to prevent any further escalations of war.
In order to suppress Man's rage and emotion, a drug- a drug called Prozium has been developed to keep society in line to the extent of their behavior patterns mirroring that of the Stepford Wives. To further enforce their edict, the government dispatches super Police soldiers-Gramnerton Clerics Masters of Gun Fu!
The clerics themselves, are reminiscent of Blade Runners but instead of tracking Replicants, it is those individuals who violate the law via reading literature, listening to music, confiscating art or anything that may enact sheer emotion.These violations are referred to as "sensory offenses" and those who are caught, shall be subjected to punishment as in a death by execution.
One morning, Grammaton Cleric Preston accidentally skips a dosage resulting in restoration of his feelings and thus begins his newfound destiny. But will he survive to fulfill it?
"We have created a new arm of the law: The Grammaton Cleric, whose sole task it is to seek out and eradicate the true source of man's inhumanity to man - his ability to feel."
"Prozium - The great nepenthe. Opiate of our masses. Glue of our great society. Salve and salvation, it has delivered us from pathos, from sorrow, the deepest chasms of melancholy and hate. With it, we anesthetize grief, annihilate jealousy, obliterate rage. Those sister impulses towards joy, love, and elation are anesthetized in stride, we accept as fair sacrifice. For we embrace Prozium in its unifying fullness and all that it has done to make us great."
The world building in Equilibrium, may seem familiar for those who are Sci Fi dystopian enthusiasts as comparisons drawn from other films; Metropolis, 1984, Minority Report and of course Fahrenheit 451, but if you're going to imitate, do it from the best, amirite?
What impressed me, is the low budgeted films ambition reminiscent of John Carpenter’s Escape from New York, be it production design or set pieces such as Libria's architecture flooded by propaganda blimps are impressive visuals. it seems as if the money squeezed out for its production have been well spent.
The action scenes are quite sporadic, but efficient for the story's pacing and as with many action films, they saved the best for last.
Bale does more hand to hand combat in this than practically, most of his Batman films combined!
How would you rate it and why? 🌟🌟🌟 out of four Stars!
Equilibrium received a good amount of critical praise despite a dismal Box office reception.
Despite being unfairly compared to 1999's The Matrix, this Fahrenheit 45 inspired dystopian drama is best known for its cautionary metaphor of social engineering gone bad, accompanied by groundbreaking combat scenes as in some concocted martial arts style called Gun Kata that gives "Pistol whipped", a new definition! Christian Bale delivers an exceptional pre-Batman and post Bateman performance, courtesy of his ability to display a range of emotions, while playing the stoic John Preston. It wouldn't be as of no surprise, if WB cast him for the role of the Dark Knight, after seeing what he is capable of.
Rounding out the cast is Sean Bean as Preston’s partner and friend (Sean Bean has a knack for getting killed in most of his films and tv shows, so don’t expect him to come out in one piece during Equilibrium’s finale.) Emily Watson as sense officer Mary O’Brien who plays an integral part of Preston’s crisis of conscience, Taye Diggs’ role as Brandt can easily be compared to the Uncle Tom archetype if not that of a sycophant. Rounding out the cast is Agnus Macfadyen as the main baddie, Vice Counsel Dupont.
That's all well and good Stalks, but what's the relevance?
It’s a bit complicated. You see, with all the overt Political Correctness going about, there are subtle hints of censorship resurgence be it literature, the arts or especially when it comes to those Pseudo Justice Warriors, freedom of speech.
The Culture Wars combined with manufactured outrage, especially through Social Media, where some individuals are easily “offended”, want to enforce their discomfort by enacting cancel culture policies, capable of removing comments, TV series or even one’s place of employment. The other metaphor be it intentional or not, is society’s codependency on psychotropic drugs as a means of a coping mechanism. And while justifiable in some cases, the overall reliance on medication demonstrates or rather dictates, how people are easy to submit to a “quick fix” instead of having control over their emotions.
Equilibrium more than delivers thanks to its share of action, premise and emotionally charged moments, which in turn, encapsulates a good dynamic. E the especially regarding principal characters, who are devoid of emotion. The soundtrack accompanies the somber climate of the film giving way to an up-tempo Carpenter-esque cathartic conclusion, and a satisfying one at that! While again, being compared to the Matrix, I found Equilibrium, to be more of a Smart action sci fi film.
What's the final verdict?
Guilty! Guilty of being a cult classic if not a highly underrated dystopian feature.