Disappointed with "The Matrix Reloaded"? Felt let down? ACHIEVE "Equlibrium" by watching this movie.
First of all, this is another much needed and sorely missed breath of fresh air that we've seen so rarely come down the pike from the cookie-cutter that is Hollywood. This movie made me feel the same way after viewing such films as "Boondock Saints", "The 1st Matrix", "Smoking Aces", "Memento", "Donnie Darko", "Brotherhood of the Wolf", as well as The films of Paul Thomas Anderson, Takeshi Kitano, Guy Ritchie, and Takashi Miike--which is completly surprised, and pleased with the blend of intelligence with action and an ever increasing difficulty level of taking elements of genres and giving them a unique new twist (true originality is all but dead).
Granted this movie uses elements of stories we've seen before whether it be the oppressive dystopias of movies like 1984, Fahrenheit 451, A Brave New World, THX 1138, Metropolis, Brazil, Gattaca, Logan's Run, Rollerball (the original), or "The Handmaid's Tale".
It's interesting to note that Libria's citizens are encouraged to "rat" each other out. It brings to mind Mao or McCarthy although not to such hysterical fever pitches...that would be a "sense offense". Instead of books, or political idealogies, emotions themselves are outlawed. Instead of "A Brave New World's" ~soma~ the good citizen's of Libria have the opiate for the masses "Prozium". This is Libria's cure to end war (unlike Rollerball's "game").
Not that ALL emotions are eradicated , as director Kurt Wimmer shares, rather prozium eliminates mankind's tempestous highs and lows. And those emotions, ambition, jealousy, that might further Libria's cause of promoting "Non-feeling" are allowed such as Taye Diggs character's motivation to bring John Preston (Christian Bale) down. It's also interesting to note that the director meant this as a parable, a cautionary tale of socio-politcal ideology gone wrong, rather than a literal story.
The Grammaton Clerics similarity to the sandmen in "Logan's Run" ("Minority Report" has similarities to "LR" as well) was interesting--two partner cops hunting down "offenders" whether they be "runners", "Pre-criminals", or in this case "sense offenders". One has to pursue and kill a partner then have his conscience / soul pricked to have an epiphany and find they are questioned or pursued themselves.
I can't say enough about the performances other than agreeing with the director he batted a thousand with his casting. Everybody was superb, Christian Bale is a delight to watch grow with each new performance (it took Hollywood long enough to wise up to this proven action star with acting chops to boot-- like the late Brandon Lee, Christian Bale packs a deadly combo of ripped physicallity with a deep emotional wellspring to draw on). Sean Bean continues to blow me away with performances of his "flawed= REAL" characters, whether in "Goldeneye", "Patriot Games", "Ronin", or "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" Bean wrenches a very soulful, human performance out of what little screen time he's given.
The action of this movie is a much needed shot in the arm for HARD CORE ACTION JUNKIES. The impressive "Gun Kata" invented by the director is a fresh, inventive next-step in the evolution of the cinematic gun battle. Hong Kong innovators such as John Woo / Chow Yun Fat ushered in the Balletic "Gun Fu" (as coined by writer Ric Meyers). This film unlike "The Matrix" and it's sequels does not rely on "wire-fu" stunts-- (the flip by Cleric Preston was accomplished by a diving champion stunt double) --refreshing after being bombarded by the likes of "D.O.A.", the 2 "Charlie's Angels" entries, augmentation of Jackie Chan (The Tuxedo), Jet Li (Pick one), and Chow Yun Fat (Bullet-proof Monk) movies. Don't get me wrong wire work is a great tool in use of projects involving super-human ability (such as Jet Li's multiverse titan in "The One") any number of recent Superhero movies, or the Swordplay classic "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon".
The action sequences resonate with the speed and beauty of the best of Jet Li's Hong Kong work, married with the swordplay scenes with Preston's use of the "Zatoichi" underhand swordhold style. The opening introduction to the prowess of the Grammaton Cleric's "Gun-Kata", the numerous confrontations between Preston and the many "sweepers", the Kendo bokken match between Preston and Brandt, and the climactic Hallway "weeble wobble-clip" gun battle, Preston and Brandt's "Face-off", and the final confrontation between Dupont (Angus MacFadyen / Braveheart) which innovatively uses the hand locking styles reminiscent of Wing Chun's 'chi sau'/'lok sau', or Tai Chi Chuan's 'toi sau' only with guns!
I find "Matrix" comparisons rather tedious. As for Preston's clothes copying Neo, other than they are sleek tight fitting and black I don't see the comparison (I mean Neo was wearing a trenchcoat!) I also remind all that "Equilibrium" predates "Matrix re-loaded" in which the tables are turned Neo's "uber-mensch/superman" persona has on the "GOD Smock". I find that on occasion that 2 or more creative people will come up with the same idea independently from one another. So I agree with director Kurt Wimmer that the bros. Wachowski were giving Neo religious garb to outwardly represent his 'deity' which coincidently took on the 19th century deacon smock motif.
In conclusion I find this to be a very enjoyable, overlooked movie that you should definitely check out. Thanks for reading, and thanks to Best Buy for this forum.