" In practice ends up looking a bit like Conan O'Brian's 'Pimp Bot' going to war... "
Title: Equilibrium by Dimension Home Video
Format: Sci Fi Social Commentary
Reviewing Monkey: Our Ape Masters
The Hype: Part of the rush of post Matrix sci-fi pseudo-noir flicks and following in the footsteps of such greats as "Fahrenheit 451", Equilibrium asks the question "is peace worth the loss of freedom"? I know, I know…it's such an original concept that I was almost blown out of my Lazy-boy. Still, that not withstanding, let's get to the bigger question, "Do we need another b-rated morality play?"
What This Monkey Thought...
Story and Acting: At an
unspecified point in the future of humanity World War III has all but decimated
our species and left the survivors to follow a simple rule: emotion breeds chaos
and chaos breeds war, thus, no emotion no war. That's right, kids, emotions
of any kind have been outlawed and the powers that be gun down or burn anything
that is caught exhibiting them.
Of course, any time you have this kind of totalitarian government you'll have rebels, and these outlaws gather in dark rooms in the void of war torn cities to listen to music, read literature, and generally lament about how the cure is worse than the disease. Constantly at war with these outlaws is a "new breed" of police officer who venture into the badlands with an army of generically black clad soldiers that have the authority to kill them on the spot.
Amidst this chaos we see our hero enter. Initially one of the police officers he slowly begins to see the merit of emotion and weans himself off of the mandatory emotion killing drug his society all employ and begins to embrace emotional content, and most of the movie focuses on his emotional discovery before finally pitting him up against the leader of the evil anti-emotion world order.
So, what can we take from that synopsis? Well, if you said that it's hard-core social commentary masking as an action movie then you'd be right! And while that's not always a bad thing the views expressed are so radically archaic that they just don't belong in modern cinema. To make matters worse, all of the actors (many of which I really like, including Christian Bale and Taye Diggs) are forced to portray an emotionless society through wooden dialogue, a complete lack of facial expressions, and some down right ludicrous social exchanges…which does nothing to enhance the humanizing elements of this film and makes the story drag like a poodle tied to a racecar's bumper. Even the "emotional emergence" of the hero (Bale) is forced and uninspired leaving the drama in this movie sorely lacking. 1 out of 5
Visuals and Directing: Because colors
inspire emotion the entire film is shot in grays and browns and is purposefully
drab. These choices, more than just "dramatically appropriate", are obviously
designed to evoke sensitivities in the viewer but, again, simply come off as
tired and forced.
The only truly interesting cinematic aspect that is added to Equilibrium is the presence of the "gun kata", a scientifically developed series of movements that allow a martial arts master to engage targets in a 360 degree field of fire while systematically moving their body out of the most common angles for return fire. It's a clever set up that is pleasantly original but in practice ends up looking a bit like Conan O'Brian's "Pimp Bot" going to war and was obviously choreographed by someone who's never shot a gun in their life. 2 out of 5
DVD Extras: Director and producer commentary and a very short behind the scenes featurette are the only extras you'll get on Equilibrium, which is both surprising and disappointing. A movie that obviously had a message as distinct as this one should have included more background and crew insights. 2 out of 5
Value vs. Price: The MSRP is an outrageous $29.99…but I haven't seen anyone actually sell it for that. Still, even Amazon's discounted 23 bucks seems a little steep for a featureless dvd built around a gimmick flick. 2.75 out of 5
|To be fair, other monkeys in the office feel that I'm making "too big a deal" about the movies political message and that it should be taken strictly as a sci-fi movie. My opinion, however, is that the decided politics of the film are the only thing remarkable about it and, for better or worse, should be focused on. Either way you look at it, though, Equilibrium is definitely one you can afford to miss.|
The Good: Gun Kata was kind of a cool concept and a lot of actors I liked.
The Bad: Who all produce lukewarm performances at best in this stinker.
The Overall Ugly: The movies tag line goes, "In a future where freedom is outlawed, outlaws will become heroes"…but needs the addendum "and you won't give a damn.
What it's Worth: 99 cents.