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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Equilibrium

Starring: Christian Bale, Taye Diggs
Director: Kurt Wimmer
Rated: R
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: December 2002
Genres: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action, Suspense

*Also starring: Sean Bean, Sean Pertwee, Emily Watson, William Fichtner, Angus MacFadyen

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

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 humanity.

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 of fun.

EQUILIBRIUM runs 1:47. It is rated R for "violence" and would be acceptable for teenagers.

Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes

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