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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner10/03/2003

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 107 mins

It’s the British Matrix! At least, it wants to be - completely bonkers and full of more holes than bullet-ridden Swiss cheese but surprisingly enjoyable nonetheless.

Watching Equilibrium, you could be forgiven for thinking that writer-director Kurt Wimmer simply got fed up with waiting for the sequels to The Matrix (due May 15th and November 7th) and decided to make his own low-budget version. The result is surprisingly enjoyable, if occasionally very stupid indeed.

Emotion Leads To War

The film is set in the future, several years after World War Three, in the nation of Libria. It has been decreed that “emotions lead to war” and so all emotions, along with anything that may cause emotions have been outlawed.

The people are kept in check by daily self-administered doses of a drug called Prozium. (No prizes for seeing through that thinly veiled reference). They also take orders from the Big Giant Head of er…Sean Pertwee. Which is, in itself, rather unsettling.

In order to police those pesky emotional types (with their secret stashes of art, literature and rock’n’roll) the State employs Clerics, whose job it is to dress in a long black coat, look cool and shoot subversives. Christian Bale (his appetite for Crap Sci-Fi clearly whetted after Reign of Fire) plays John Preston, one of the afore-mentioned Clerics. However, one day he accidentally drops and smashes his Prozium capsule and suddenly finds himself with all these feelings. And that’s before the Impossibly Cute Puppy turns up…

Ridiculous Yet Great Fun

There are literally hours of fun to be had pulling Equilibrium to pieces in the pub afterwards. However, as ridiculous as it sounds, it’s actually a lot of fun. This is due to the fact that Kurt Wimmer doesn’t hold with all that new-fangled MTV choppy editing (see Daredevil) and instead knows how to shoot an action scene so that you can actually see what’s going on.

It also helps that Wimmer has come up with his very own genius concept – Gun-kata (which really ought to be re-named Gun Fu). This basically involves extremely fast martial arts moves, only with rapid-firing weapons in both hands. It’s even more fun than it sounds.

Bale is very good, commendably managing to play it completely straight, though one senses there must have been a few crack-ups on set. Taye Diggs overacts wildly (perhaps a bit too wildly considering emotions are outlawed) but provides good support. Sadly, Emily Watson’s character (a prisoner Preston finds himself attracted to) is criminally under-used.

Equilibrium leaves no cliché unturned, from the Cute Puppy In Peril to the Race Against Time, but somehow gets away with it. It also has a terrific climactic swordfight, something most films could benefit from. (A climactic swordfight would have livened up Two Weeks’ Notice no end…)

In short, if you like dumb, action-packed sci-fi movies, Equilibrium has your name on it. Worth seeing.

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Content updated: 19/01/2020 01:30

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