A World Without Emotions
Christian Bale stars in his best action film before the debut of Batman Begins (2005) which made him a household name in the Hollywood industry for being the first British actor to take on the role of the Dark Knight. Equilibrium (2002) is a science-fiction action film directed by Kurt Wimmer who has directed another sci-fi action movie which did not do well both critically and commercially despite starring a global box-office action star namely Milla Jovovich: Ultraviolet (2006).
Ultraviolet at least recouped its $30 million budget whereas Equilibrium was a colossal flop earning a meager $5.2 million worldwide on a budget of $20 million. Perhaps if this movie was released post-Batman Begins then studios could have capitalized on Bale’s star power which they hoped to do with Jovovich as she had already earned fame from her portrayal as the protagonist, Alice, in the first Resident Evil film released in 2002 which subsequently started a multi-film franchise.
Style & Substance
Not only is this movie story-driven but the action is quite over-the-top. Christan Bale’s main character John Preston seems to be a John Wick prototype and you could even call the action choreography displayed in this film as Sci-Fi John Wick. The Gun Fu action sequences performed by the main characters show how this fighting style is a mixture of kung fu and gunplay (Gun Fu). It might be over-the-top but its wackiness juxtaposes nicely with the serious storyline.
After World War 3 the government decides that human emotions are the main reason for wars always being fought in every era. Hence, they develop and administer a drug on their citizens which eliminates emotions. Christian Bale plays protagonist John Preston who is a part of the government and an enforcer of the law. But he starts doubting where his loyalties lie after accidentally missing a dose of the drug.
The Importance of Sean Bean’s Death (No Pun Intended)
When Preston confronts Partridge (Bean) readings an illegal book of poetry by real-life famous poet W.B. Yeats he reawakens emotions and then Preston kills Partridge. This is the strongest point of the movie and I would not have awarded this movie a perfect score if it did not feature this pivotal scene. Sean Bean’s death becoming the film’s focal point is reminiscent of his beheading in Game of Thrones where he played Ned Stark years after Equilibrium was released.
All in all, Equilibrium is a must-watch for all genre fans but especially for those people who like books/comics/movies like 1984, Brave New World, V for Vendetta, Watchmen, etc. After reading this review, I hope that you give Equilibrium a watch if you haven’t and a re-watch if you have. The movie was released in 2002 but is both production-wise and especially story-wise on par with 2022’s sci-fi action flicks.