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Equilibrium (US) (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000053072
Added by: Anil Khedun
Added on: 15/9/2003 00:13
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    Review of Equilibrium

    7 / 10


    Imagine a future where everything everywhere is the same. Style of dress, layout of buildings and offices where there`s no colour, no `life`, no laughter, no feeling. Everyone leads identical lives. This is the way of life here in Librium. If you dare feel anything than you face a visit, and possible extermination, from the Grammaton Clerics.

    Christian Bale is John Preston, a Grammaton Cleric, a bureaucrat who carries out his orders to the letter. After all, without order and discipline there would be chaos, where would you be then? Thus begins the painting of a dystopic future where war won`t happen because of a single dictator, Father, that has ruled out feelings. Feelings are the downfall of mankind. The Clerics are the enforcers of this new world order and its laws and are appropriately dressed in long black coats. They possess incredible gun and hand-to-hand combat skills learned through training that anticipates every possible physical movement an enemy might have. They are uncompromising when it comes to dealing with "sense offenders".

    This pursuit of peace comes at a price, human life. The concept of this Orwellian prediction is a nightmare come true. Anything that might trigger a feeling, be it art, literature or music, is destroyed. All those individuals that oppose this regime are called "sense offenders" and are executed. Nice. How do you control yourself? Easy, take regular doses of `Prozium` to suppress any emotion that you might have. As long as you keep taking it, you`ll conform. You`ll be obedient.

    It`s just a matter of time before John Preston starts to wonder about feeling again. He arrests someone that questions his beliefs and this makes him step back for a moment. This is the pivotal point where he decides to make a change.


    Equilibrium arrives with a solid 2.35:1 widescreen enhanced video transfer. The restrained yet industrialised colour palette in this futuristic fascist regime is equally as cold as the lack of feeling in the story. There are a lot of greys, blacks, blues and white. The detail is high with only the most minimal amounts of grain. Some of the darker scenes with subtle shadows had a little bit of smearing but it`s not too noticeable. The production design is stunning and gives the impression of a painful future.


    The film arrives with an aggressive Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that impresses from the start to the finish. As you would expect, the guns and action sounds loud and clear with good use of pans from back to front. The quieter scenes too have good use of ambient sound. Dialogue is clear from the centre.


    This DVD seems to be lacking in supplements, but it makes up for it with the audio commentaries.

    • Finding Equilibrium (4:26) - An incredibly short featurette, which sadly has no time to go into any specifics of the film. With all the footage which is clearly available, Buena Vista opted instead to treat us to this utterly pointless extra.

    • Director Commentary - This being the first feature from Kurt Wimmer, I was expecting an almost sycophantic commentary but I`m glad to say I couldn`t be more wrong. Listening to what he says about the film, casting and his intentions is interesting. It`s worth listening to.

    • Director and Producer Commentary - Another audio commentary with writer/director Kurt Wimmer and now joined by one of his producers, Lucas Foster. This is recipe for overlap but incredibly there`s very little iteration of stuff Wimmer says from the first audio commentary. Again, worth listening to if you get the chance as there`s back-and-forth banter between the two and it proves entertaining.

    • Sneak Peeks - Trailers for Kill Bill, Wes Craven Presents Dracula II: Ascension, Invincible and Below.

    There are English subtitles.


    There was much hype made of this futuristic sci-fi film when it first came out and I was in two minds about seeing it. I didn`t and instead knew I would see the DVD. Here it is at last and my overall opinion the first time I watched it was somewhat mixed. I enjoyed certain elements of the film the second time around, but I still have a few nagging questions about the logic that`s presented in the film.

    The Orwellian influence of a Nanny State here is interesting and films such as Logan`s Run, Fahrenheit 451, THX 1138 and others have been inspired to tell similar stories. Equilibrium`s cautionistic tale seems to focus more on what`s missing; the numbness of this society. I still have my qualms though. If everyone is taking emotion suppression drugs, how can they feel anger at betrayal? Where`s the calmness in those that dictate and follow rules? This sense of hypocrisy doesn`t make sense to me as we watch two characters lose their rag. I can understand one of them doing this, but a cleric getting mad?

    In addition, Preston`s children don`t get much in the way of screen time and this wipes out any attachment a father might have with his kids. While we get the sense that something is amiss in his interaction with his son and daughter, later on there`s still no indication of what they`re going through. These are children that are `acting` with suppressed emotion but it never strikes me as quite right. Unless of course it really is an abnormal future where such things are difficult to comprehend.

    Story aside, the action is one of the reasons why the film might be seen and it has some very good action scenes. Interesting gunplay and combat and certainly scenes to rewind and play again. While it`s nothing truly grandiose or groundbreaking, the film manages to hold its own.

    It`s hard not to make a film, which is inspired by what`s gone before and a lot of criticism has been levelled at Equilibrium for being a mere copycat of The Matrix and the like. The Matrix is hardly original in itself except for some great action and style. Equilibrium is a stylish film that isn`t The Matrix or a clone, it`s just a science-fiction story about a future inspired by the likes of 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. It`s not a bad film in that respect. Even if it does have a sentimental scene with a puppy!

    Casting wise Christian Bale makes this film his own. His cold steely eyes capture the zero-emotion mood in the opening scenes of the film. His demeanour of the efficient bureaucrat trained to eliminate any opposition is well played. His slow awakening as the result of not taking Prozium is not bad either. There`s little to really say of Sean Bean or Mary O`Brian as they play their parts and aren`t bad actors. Taye Diggs turns in a decent performance too since he`s not called on to play a big range.

    For a feature debut Kurt Wimmer has made an interesting film. The one recurring theme in this story is that of how bad a future like this is. The message is repeated in different ways throughout and sometimes it does get a little tiring. It`s almost as if the action scenes are being linked in any way they can be to get us to the climactic action scenes at the end. We all know what will happen too. Despite some of the films shortcomings, I think it`s worth seeing if only out of curiosity. I found the audio commentary supplements were more enjoyable than the film so it`s worth getting hold of, if only for a rental.

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