Film Review – Equilibrium (2002)

Title – Equilibrium (2002) 

Director – Kurt Wimmer (Ultraviolet) 

Cast – Christian Bale, Emily Watson, Sean Bean, Taye Diggs, William Fichtner

Plot – In a dystopian future where mankind’s emotions and feelings have been permanently squashed by new government reigns and drugs, government agent John Preston (Bale) begins to have his eyes opened to what a world with humanity in it looks like, setting him on a path to clash with his livelihood and subjection to his role. 

“Mankind united with infinitely greater purpose in pursuit of war than he ever did in pursuit of peace”

Review by Eddie on 03/02/2022

Receiving a lukewarm at best response from critics on release and faring even worse at the worldwide box office when it was unleashed at the tail end of 2002, earning less than $5 million dollars at the international ticket booths, Kurt Wimmer’s dystopian sci-fi Equilibrium has slowly but steadily gained a significant genre following in the near 20 years on from its initial release. 

Taking liberally from George Orwell’s revered 1984 and other similar films, Equilibrium’s narrative focuses around a world ravaged by global warfare that has decided the best way forward for the human race is to squash the very instinct to feel or show emotion, as its society is policed by a gun-fu (you can only understand it once you see it) savvy police force and dictated by a mysterious leader who rules with pharmaceutical drugs designed specifically to ensure an obedient and predictable population. 

It’s a loaded subject matter and one with ample potential to explore and examine and it’s fair to say Wimmer doesn’t delve too much into the finer details of his concept as he instead keeps his film relatively narrow in scope as it centres around Christian Bale’s long serving and dedicated government agent John Preston who finds himself beginning to look at life with a different set of eyes that could indeed begin to unleash his natural feelings and thoughts that have long been curtailed by the world he lives and serves in. 

For such a unique concept, much of Equilibrium is fairly predictable, with Wimmer following a well trodden path towards his end game with it disappointing that the film doesn’t explore much of its ideas in too much depth with the idea of the resistance force building against this new way of life or even Preston’s backstory/family life not getting a lot of time to grow or make us feel much in the way of genuine emotion but there’s still a fun time too be had with the film we end up getting. 

The type of film that would’ve nowadays gotten a fair amount of airplay in the modern streaming climate, this is absolutely the type of material Netflix would overpay for the rights too, Equilibrium’s lack of storytelling smarts or inability to grow much from its initial conception doesn’t stop it from being an enjoyable dystopian detour that harbors within it an idea and concepts that someone would be wise to explore further if given the chance too. 

Final Say – 

A sci-fi that borrows plenty from previous genre entries but also creates a raft of nifty if slightly underdeveloped ideas of its own, Equilibrium is an initially dismissed feature that has understandably managed to find its growing audience in the years since its release, despite it never once threatening to be regarded as top class fare. 

3 burned paintings out of 5 

8 responses to “Film Review – Equilibrium (2002)

  1. I forgot Sean Bean was in this one. It’s been ages since I’ve seen it. I remember Christian Bale and Taye Diggs striking up all sorts of martial arts lunges and stances…and a scene with a puppy. The Nicholas Hoult-Kristen Stewart picture Equals (Drake Doremus, 2015) would make for an interesting follow-up because its narrative focus is also on a society in which emotions (specifically passion) are pharmaceutically repressed for the alleged betterment of society. Reproduction is the result of duty and not love, lust, or sensual pleasures of tactile stimulation.

    • A decent movie is Equals!
      I took a long time to finally see this one and while it’s not amazing its got a lot of great ideas and cool scenes, can certainly see why its a cult fav.

    • It deserved a lot better than it got on release that’s for sure!
      I reckon there is a great mini-series or even show that could be born from this idea.

  2. It’s almost insane to think Bale went from the buff form in this to the emaciated figure in The Machinist and then back to super buff for Batman Begins, all within the span of a couple of years.
    Also thought of this one more as a modernised remake of Fahrenheit 451 but with amazing action choreography and design.

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