In a future society, where war has been avoided by the
use of a feeling-repressant drug called Prozium, Neo ... I
mean John Preston is a talented Grammaton Cleric (government
agent) charged with the responsibility of seeking out illegal
sense offenders and issuing immediate punishment. Death. After
killing his own partner for reading poetry, he begins to question
his own motives, Uncontrollable circumstances cause him to
be late taking his dose of prozium, and once he begins to
experience genuine feelings he finds there's no going back.
But how can Preston survive among his own officers long enough
to bring them and this totalitarian society down?...
In this modern age, there's no such thing as a totally original
idea. Everything is at least partially based on a previous
concept. Equilibrium is a film brought to us by the
makers of Minority Report and Speed. The
Minority Report connection is plain to see. There is a
very Phillip K. Dick feel to this entire film, evident in
the serious near-future society which is somehow twisted.
This movie has also been compared much with The Matrix.
The long coats, humourless faces, and excessive use of firearms
and close contact fighting further confirm the fact. There
is even an element of the early George Lucas book-turned-film,
THX 1138, in which people are kept subdued by drugs,
and physical sex and standard procreation is prohibited by
law. However, there is another source that Equilibrium
borrows from so heavily that I'm truly astonished no one appears
to have noticed it before.
storyteller Ray Bradbury wrote a novel in the fifties called
Fahrenheit 451 (which is the temperature at which paper
burns). This was immortalised in a marvellous film in the
seventies by Francais Trauffant. The plot was that books and
literature of any kind is outlawed by government. People are
told what to think and are obliged to watch a set minimum
amount of hours TV every day (that's law now, isn't it?).
Citizens report anyone suspected of having books, and the
fire brigade arrives to summarily burn them. One such fireman
keeps a book out of curiosity, only to get bitten by the literary
bug. He finds himself in the same situation as John Preston,
except his contact with the underground isn't so cut and dried.
These people recite to each other individual classics by word
of mouth, so they can be passed on and not lost forever to
so there's a lot of similarities here, but Equilibrium
manages to spark its own slant of originality. There's much
to appreciate in what first appears to be a blatant rip-off.
Firstly, everybody wears dull colours and lives in a monochrome
environment; this is a good way of displaying the general
lack of emotional senses. Hidden rooms with concealed artefacts
then suddenly seem blindingly bright with promise. The feelings,
when displayed to us through John Preston, are subtle and
so all the more potent. A sunrise, the touch of human skin,
the petting of a puppy dog; all come across powerfully. For
me, this film is more about the regaining of the human soul,
than it ever is about the fighting. Of course, the fighting
helps (there's even a shoot-em-up scene copied straight from
The Matrix). It's very well choreographed, and there
is even a training explanation why one skilled man can mow
down hoards of machine-gun-wielding guards! I particularly
liked the hand-to-hand fighting with guns at the conclusion.
almost ironic that this is no different to any other so-called
ideal society, whose utopia must be maintained with an iron
fist. The realism juxtaposes with the exaggerated fight scenes,
producing a film well worth a viewing.
far as the extras go, short seems to be the order of the day.
Aside from a director's commentary and a director & producer
commentary, there is only a short trailer and a series of
very brief TV spots. If the behind-the-scenes feature had
been at least 30 minutes duration I might have considered
giving this release an extra point, but at only four minutes
it hardly warrants that description at all. This is a "I did
this film because it's ... er ...very good" series of quotes
from the actors. It was hardly worth the effort, and a complete
waste of film. My granny could have done better.
Momentum Pictures, but if you're going to add extras, do it
like you mean it. Where are all the outakes, the cut or extended
scenes, the biogs, the picture galleries, the in-depth interviews
and demonstrations from the artistes behind the scenes? It's
a good job the film is so good.
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