2 + 2 = 5
Film review by: Witney Seibold

            “It’s not the message that’s important,” Cleric John Preston’s boss intones to him, “It’s our obedience to it that matters.” This Orwellian sentiment is handled with care and adeptness in the surprisingly good science fiction film “Equilibrium,” directed by Kurt Wimmer, and starring Christian Bale.
            After the third World War, people have finally pinned down what makes us so self-destructive as humans. Feelings. So now we have a world where it is a crime to feel anything, or own anything that might produce feeling, be it a pet, art, books, music, or even attractive furniture. To reinforce that we not feel, people are required to be zonked-out on emotion suppressants. We are ruled by the proverb spouting Father, and the law is enforced by Clerics, who are emotionless and logical like Vulcans, but know kung fu and how to handle firearms. Our story follows the world’s best renowned Cleric Preston (Bale), as he forgets one morning to take his dose of drugs. He begins to realize the dangers and exhilaration involved in having feelings. He is suspected by his boss (Angus MacFadyen), and new partner (Taye Diggs), but is quietly converted to a resistance movement unwittingly by an apprehended “feeling” woman (Emily Watson).
            This film startled me in how nicely it was able to handle psychologically complex dystopian futurism, á la 1984 or Fahrenheit 451. It was obviously made on a low budget, so stuck to strong ideas and solid performances to achieve what it wanted. Too often these films melt into action, and narrow down the plot until a chase or a fight can solve everything. This one get more emotionally complex as it progresses, and has a resolution that is, well, non-resolute. There are also some thrilling fight scenes, which play like a perfect blending of fistfight and gunplay. I’m usually adverse to action. Here, I was enthralled.
            It did drag in places; the editing could have been far tighter. And I would have liked to see more philosophical banter between the feeling and the unfeeling. But in all, this is a decent, smart, and exciting little thriller.

Published in: on May 12, 2009 at 11:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

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