2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
where freedom is outlawed outlaws become heroes Writer and first-time director Wimmer presents his own vision of the future in this gritty and action-packed thriller. But it's not really his vision; he borrows everything from Orwell's 1984, Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and Huxley's Brave New World, not to mention The Matrix. In the future, Big Brother ... oops, I mean Father (Pertwee), the benevolent dictator of Libria, controls the populace with the anti-emotion drug prozium (which people must inject themselves with three times a day--yeah, that'd work!), all in an effort to obliterate feelings and emotion so everyone stays placid and peaceful. Of course, this means art is prohibited (how they keep you from noticing the beauty in a sunrise is never mentioned), so a team of thought police troopers commanded by "clerics" rampages through the city chasing rebels who commit "sense crimes." The top cleric is Preston (Bale), who discovers emotion when he neglects to take his drugs, opening a whole new world and tempting him to help the resistance. A recently captured rebel (Watson) lures him further, while his new partner (Diggs) notices something is up. Especially when Preston starts carrying a cuddly puppy around with him!

Yes, it's utterly preposterous, with gaping holes everywhere in both the premise and the story. It's also extremely badly directed, with chaotically fast and hugely over-choreographed action scenes in Wimmer's own "gun-kata" blend of gunplay and karate. Some of the imagery is indeed striking, as are some of the eye-catching fight scenes. But with such a sieve-like premise and story, we simply can never take it as seriously as Wimmer so obviously does. (There's no humour in the future either.) The cast is very good, grabbing onto the subtext and relishing the suppressed-emotional interplay. But it's all guns and stuntwork, shadowy production design instead of meaningful character shadings. Sure, it's so cheesy that it's enjoyable, especially as you spend most of the time spotting things Wimmer stole from much better sources ... and keeping a list of problems with this Utopia (Why aren't prisoners drugged? Why isn't there a CCTV camera anywhere?). In the end, though, it's just sad: The whole film is trying far too hard to be serious and cool. But it's neither.

cert 15 themes, strong violence 20.Feb.03

dir-scr Kurt Wimmer
with Christian Bale, Taye Diggs, Angus MacFadyen, Emily Watson, Sean Pertwee, William Fichtner, Sean Bean, Matthew Harbour, Emily Siewert, Alexa Summer, Klaus Schindler, David Hemmings
release US 6.Dec.02; UK 14.Mar.03
02/US 1h47

Top clerics. Preston and Brandt (Bale and Diggs) are partners in the tought police who end up hunting each other down...

bale diggs watson
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R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... where freedom is outlawed outlaws become heroes "I thought this was excellent, actually. Where The Matrix was an excuse for the special effects, Equilibrium is a film with excuses for the effects thrown in. It's very much that film meets Fahrenheit however-many-it-was degrees - anti-emotion uber-police hunting down anyone with passion. It turns intelligent SF literature into a less high-brow experience. Remember, it's scifi/action, not scifi drama. If it looks cool and makes you think a little, it's worthwhile." --Medusa, Surrey 18.Mar.03
2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall