Equilibrium: Better than The Matrix?

Complete Score: 32.5 / 42 = 77.4%

In 2002 a film was released to test audiences with a significant amount of positive reaction from movie going crowds, although critics mostly rated the movie as mediocre. At this point the marketing geniuses at Dimension decided to release the film with little promotion and only to a select few theaters. Of course the movie tanked, thus re-affirming the view of critics and seemingly supporting the marketers’ perspective that the film sucked and wasn’t worth distributing to the general public (who, again, actually liked the film).

Clerics look for sense offenders who choose to risk it all and feel!

The film is Equilibrium (though those aforementioned marketing geniuses very nearly released it as “The Cleric”) and it’s dystopian futuristic setting oozes detail while it’s storyline hints at very deep philosophical currents. Written and directed by Kurt Wimmer, the movie stars Christian Bale as a cleric who begins to question his role and his reality, Taye Diggs, the ever loyal to the fascist regime douchbag extraordinaire, Emily Watson, as the love interest of not just one but two characters (scandalous!), and Sean Pertwee as the big brother figure, known as Father in the film’s city state setting of Libria.

The world finally experienced World War Three and citizens around the world gave up their rights to liberty and reality for peace. After the war it was determined that humanity itself was to blame for the ills and dangers of humanity, thus a huge movement was started to basically sedate our emotions. To the characters in the movie, the secluded world of Libria is all they know and everything beyond the Librian walls is uncivilized and dangerous. Clerics, the elite police force of the government, patrol the wild environment outside of Libria looking for sense offenders who choose to risk it all and feel!

Value

As of the date of this review, the film is available on Amazon.com for under $10. Considering it’s worth at least two views, the value of this movie is quite good. It’s not the best of movies, but it’s certainly worth $10 and will entertain you at least once. The action scenes are worth the price of admission here, so even if you find the story a bit campy the action is tight!

Score: 4/ 5

Quality

The action scenes are great, some of the best I’ve seen! The movie revolves around a new form of martial arts that includes guns, called Gun Kata. Clerics are the grand masters of Gun Kata and work for the government tracking down sense offenders, who are people who’ve stopped taking their daily soma-esque treatment and instead experience the world naturally, with emotions! The storyline is a bit campy but it’s viewable a few times before the camp really sets in.

The artistic vision for this film is perfect and really immerses you in the dystopian, authoritarian future of the story. Even today, six years after the film was made I’m still awed by some of the special effects and imagery of the film. The filmmakers spent just enough time showing off the environment to give you a feel for the city without taking too much time away from the story. The writing in the film isn’t great but is good enough to keep the film flowing. The real stars here are Libria and Gun Kata.

Score: 4 / 5

Equilibrium's imagery is splendid.
Equilibrium's imagery is splendid.

Innovation

OK, so first time viewers of this movie will find a lot of similarities to The Matrix, but with it’s use of Gun Kata (yes, I’m a big fan of the Clerics’ fighting style) and focus on emotional control it breaks enough new ground that it’s not just another science fiction film but with gun karate. Still, it borrows heavily from 1984, Fahrenheit 451 and Brave New World. Books are burned, along with any other material that might induce human emotion such as paintings and music. Characters are turned into walking robots while Big Father is promoted as knowing all and being the ideal role model. It’s not the most original story but if you’re going to borrow ideas and mash them up these are three phenomenal sources to use so Equilibrium gets a small pass here.

Score: 3.5 / 5

Social Benefit

It is a movie, which means whether or not you buy a disc the disc exists and will exist longer than any of us so it has a negative aspect there. Movie production is a big, big process that uses a lot of energy during all stages of the movie, from production to distribution to viewing. Still, if people see this movie and are inspired to go read 1984 or Fahrenheit 451 or question authority or their own reality, then it’s worth it. We need more movies like Equilibrium and The Matrix and less Dane Cook romantic comedies.

Score: 3 / 5

Gun Kata is wicked cool.
Gun Kata is wicked cool.

Freestyle!

I’m a big, big fan of this movie and have seen it enough times to have progressed from getting annoyed by the campy bits, to growing to love the cheese. Once you’ve seen this film as many times as I have, you start picking out parts that don’t quite make sense. Everyone in the film, except the sense offenders, is supposed to not feel emotion, yet the Clerics and police force do show anger and paranoia. Perhaps it’s meant to show that we cannot eliminate all emotion, and that those last emotions to go are the very ones that supposedly caused World War III and all the other violent acts of human history. To eliminate the worst of the human experience is to in essence neuter us.

Without the range of emotions, can we still be classified as humans? There are multiple points in the movie where it seems characters are only pretending to be robots, for instance the older woman we see enjoy the feel of a steel rail against her hands or the revolution that lives in the under world of Libria with all their raw emotions flowing. Ironically enough, the government in the film takes such a zealous approach to wiping out violence that they become an extremely violent force themselves. Of course, the movie hints that the leaders, particularly Father, are aware of this duality and purposely act on it.

Equilibrium hints at deep existential questions but leaves enough out there for the viewer to take and run with and question further. It’s much more of a science fiction action film than anything else and the action sequences are outstanding. They still impress me every time I view the film, which counts into double digits by now. Equilibrium is not better than The Matrix, though some fight scenes do match up well with and even surpass those found in The Matrix. The storyline in The Matrix, however, is more original and deeper. Still Equilibrium is a great film and excellent in its dreary depiction of the dystopian Libria and its unique Gun Kata martial arts.

Score: 18 / 22

Equilibrium is available on DVD at Amazon.com. (Note, Amazon.com is our affiliate).

Complete Score: 32.5 / 42 = 77.4%

2 thoughts on “Equilibrium: Better than The Matrix?”

  1. this was a kick ass movie
    great than matrix in every way
    and matrix is not similar to equilibrium in any way
    if you didn’t watch the movie properly you would say so
    so shut up and stop dening it all u out there
    ur just retarded like my cousin

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