So many movies have little on their mind. Kurt Wimmer's EQUILIBRIUM may leave
its scenery thoroughly chewed, but it clearly has a message in mind: Senses are
good, and government intervention to stop them, even in the name of war
prevention, isn't. A blend of MINORITY REPORT and 1984, it is told with a
sleek, über-MATRIX flair with AMERICAN PSYCHO's Christian Bale cast in the Tom
Cruise/Keanu Reeves role as Cleric John Preston. It's the sort of over-the-top
picture that leaves you either loving it or hating it. Even those who detest
it, I suspect, will have to admit that its handsomely choreographed action
sequences are exhilarating.
John is the best of the best, a fighter against the forces of feeling. After
World War III left the world in ruins, the new world order, led by "Father," a
Big Brother figure seen on building-sized monitors all over the world, has
outlawed all emotions. With hate, rage, jealousy, etc. banished, war is no
longer possible. To insure that everyone is taking their meds, the Clerics,
like the Pre-Crime units in MINORITY REPORT, kill those who resist. John's own
wife was a "sense offender" who was sentenced to "summary combustion." He lives
now with his young son, who acts like an overeager member of the Hitler youth,
and his young daughter, who displays an almost undetectable hint of her mother's
As John goes about his work, destroying contraband from the Mona Lisa to
puppies, he meets and arrests an unabashed sense offender named Mary O'Brian
(Emily Watson). Although it looks briefly like their relationship will become
central to the story, the movie ends up revolving completely around Bale's
character, which turns out to be a good thing. Bale is perfectly cast as an
automaton whose veneer is rapidly cracking.
One day, John skips his mind-altering drug, and his life is forever changed.
Rather than attempting to be Father's right-hand man in suppressing the
underground, he begins to fight for it. Bale makes the unfathomable fathomable.
By the end, you'll be rooting for him in what is, on the surface, a
preposterous sci-fi story. But Bale makes it all frighteningly real. And lots
EQUILIBRIUM runs 1:47. It is rated R for "violence" and would be acceptable for
Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes