Equilibrium (film)

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Equilibrium
Equilibriumposter.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byKurt Wimmer
Produced byJan de Bont
Lucas Foster
Bob Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein
Written byKurt Wimmer
StarringChristian Bale
Emily Watson
Taye Diggs
Angus Macfadyen
Sean Bean
William Fichtner
Music byKlaus Badelt
CinematographyDion Beebe
Editing byTom Rolfe
William Yeh
StudioDimension Films
Blue Tulip Productions
Distributed byDimension Films
Miramax Films
Release dates
  • December 6, 2002 (2002-12-06)
Running time107 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$20 million
Box office$5,359,645
 
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Equilibrium
Equilibriumposter.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byKurt Wimmer
Produced byJan de Bont
Lucas Foster
Bob Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein
Written byKurt Wimmer
StarringChristian Bale
Emily Watson
Taye Diggs
Angus Macfadyen
Sean Bean
William Fichtner
Music byKlaus Badelt
CinematographyDion Beebe
Editing byTom Rolfe
William Yeh
StudioDimension Films
Blue Tulip Productions
Distributed byDimension Films
Miramax Films
Release dates
  • December 6, 2002 (2002-12-06)
Running time107 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$20 million
Box office$5,359,645

Equilibrium is a 2002 American dystopian science fiction action thriller film written and directed by Kurt Wimmer. It stars Christian Bale, Emily Watson and Taye Diggs.

The film follows John Preston (Bale), a warrior-priest and enforcement officer in a future dystopia where both feelings and artistic expression are outlawed and citizens take daily injections of drugs to suppress their emotions. After accidentally missing a dose, Preston begins to experience emotions which make him question his own morality and moderate his actions, while attempting to remain undetected by the suspicious society in which he lives. Ultimately, he aids a resistance movement using advanced martial arts, which he was taught serving the very regime he is helping to overthrow.

Plot[edit]

Equilibrium is set in a future-state of Libria. After a Third World War devastated the Earth, a totalitarian state emerged whose ideology determined human emotion to be the root cause of conflict. All emotionally stimulating material is banned and "sense offenders" are apprehended and consigned to "combustion" (death by incineration). Illegal materials are rated "EC-10" for "emotional content" and incinerated. Everyone is required to take daily injections of Prozium, an emotion-suppressing drug for the common economic and social benefit.

Libria is governed by the Tetragrammaton Council, which is led by a figurehead known as "Father" (Sean Pertwee). Father never interacts with anyone directly, but is seen on giant video screens throughout the city and a blimp that floats through the skyline. The Tetragrammaton Council uses the police to maintain conformity. At the pinnacle of Librian law enforcement are the Grammaton Clerics, who are trained in the martial art of gun kata. The Clerics frequently raid the "Nether" region outside the city where they destroy emotionally stimulating materials such as art, books and music and execute the people hiding them. Despite their efforts, a resistance movement, known as the "Underground", emerges.

The flag of Libria. The four Ts on the flag represent the Tetragrammaton Council

John Preston (Christian Bale) is a high ranking Grammaton Cleric and a widower with two children whose wife, Viviana (Alexa Summer), was executed for "Sense Offense" (ceasing her Prozium regimen and feeling emotions). After a raid, Preston notices his partner, Errol Partridge (Sean Bean), taking a book of poems instead of incinerating them. After realizing Partridge is keeping the book, Preston tracks him down and executes him. Before he dies, Partridge says that all the consequences of feeling are a cost he "would pay gladly". The next morning, Preston accidentally breaks his daily vial of Prozium, and as he does not have an immediate replacement, he goes to Equilibrium to obtain a replacement vial. However, he does not take it and subsequently begins to experience emotions. He begins hiding his doses behind the mirror in his bathroom.

Preston is partnered with career-conscious Brandt (Taye Diggs). Together, they arrest Mary O'Brien (Emily Watson) for sense offense. Preston's emotional confusion is exacerbated during her interrogation. Without Prozium, Preston finds it difficult keeping an emotionless facade in front of his son (Matthew Harbour) and his suspicious partner. While a team is slaughtering dogs kept by executed Sense Offenders, one gets away and into Preston's hands. Preston cannot bring himself to allow the animal to be killed and concocts a story that the dog must be tested for disease in order to prevent a pandemic from ravaging the Nether. Later that evening, Preston takes the dog back to the Nether in hopes of releasing it, unaware that Brandt is watching him. When the animal fails to leave, Preston attempts to hide it in the trunk of his car, but is interrupted by a "Sweeper" team of clerics. Preston manages to withstand scrutiny until the dog yips and Preston is forced to kill the Sweeper team.

During another raid, Preston attempts to lead a group of Underground fighters to safety and is forced to kill another Sweeper team when they realize he is aiding them. When he gets to the basement, Brandt congratulates him on ensnaring the resistance fighters. Brandt orders Preston to kill the rebels, but Preston cannot do so, stating he'd rather let Brandt have the pleasure. Preston leaves, disgusted and ashamed, as the firing squad slaughters the fighters. Preston forges an emotional connection with O'Brien and he feels remorse for killing Partridge, especially after he finds out that Partridge and O'Brien were lovers. He eventually contacts the Resistance and is then summoned before Vice-Counsel DuPont (Angus Macfadyen) who reveals there is a traitor in the Clerics. DuPont tells him to exterminate the Resistance and to find the traitor. The Resistance convinces him to assassinate Father to start a revolution. They plan to disrupt Prozium production which will then lead to an uprising by the populace.

After Preston fails to stop O'Brien's execution, he is caught having an emotional breakdown by Brandt, who arrests him and brings him before the Vice-Counsel. He tricks DuPont into believing that Brandt is the real traitor (it is revealed that at the previous raid, Preston took Brandt's weapon, which was offered to him, and gave Brandt his weapon), and Brandt is taken away. Preston is informed that a search of his home will take place as a formality. He rushes home to destroy the hidden vials of unused Prozium before the search team can find them, only to find the search team is already inside. He proceeds directly to where he had hidden the vials, but finds that his son — who reveals that he stopped taking Prozium after his mother died — has already taken the unused vials from their hiding place to prevent the search team from finding them.

Preston and Resistance leader Jurgen (William Fichtner) plan to have the leaders of the Resistance captured so Preston will be granted an exclusive audience with Father; Preston will then kill him. Father actually turns out to be DuPont, who replaced the original Father after his death. Preston goes on a rampage, fighting his way to DuPont's office, which is filled with illegal artwork and ornate furniture. It is revealed that Brandt was not arrested, but was part of a ruse to expose Preston. It also becomes clear that DuPont does not take Prozium and can feel emotions. DuPont taunts him, asking Preston how it felt to betray the Underground. Preston kills all of DuPont's bodyguards, and defeats Brandt in a katana battle, efficiently hacking his face off. Preston and DuPont finally fight in a gun kata battle, which Preston wins.

DuPont tries to convince Preston to spare him, asking if taking his life is worth the emotion of knowing he killed someone who is "feeling" and knows how beautiful life can be. Preston repeats Partridge's last words and announces that he gladly will pay the cost, shooting DuPont in the chest. He then destroys the propaganda communication control systems. The Underground blows up the Prozium manufacturing and storage facilities, while scores of rebels successfully attack key points throughout the city. Preston watches the overthrow of the government from DuPont's office, holding O'Brien's red ribbon and smiling.

Cast[edit]

Gun Kata[edit]

Gun Kata is a fictional gun-wielding martial art discipline. It is based on the premise that, given the positions of the participants in a gun battle, all trajectories of fire are statistically predictable. By memorizing the positions, one can fire at the most likely location of an enemy without aiming at him in the traditional sense. By the same token, the trajectories of incoming fire are also statistically predictable, so by assuming the appropriate stance, one can keep clear of the most likely path of enemy bullets.

The Gun Kata shown in Equilibrium is a hybrid mix of Kurt Wimmer's own style of Gun Kata (invented in his backyard)[1] and the martial arts style of the fight choreographer Jim Vickers, with elements of the Chinese martial art style Wing Chun. They disagreed on the appropriate form of Gun Kata, with Kurt Wimmer advocating a smoother, flowing style and the choreographer supporting a more rigid style. Much of the Gun Kata seen in the film is based on the choreographer's style.[2] Kurt Wimmer's Gun Kata is dispersed sparsely throughout the movie, most notably in the introductory scene with the silhouetted man, played by Wimmer himself, practicing with dual pistols.

Production[edit]

Olympic Stadium in Berlin, representing Librian government offices.
The Hall of Enforcement in Equilibrium, represented by the Subway station under the Reichstag Building.

Most of the filming used locations in Berlin, due to its unique mixture of fascist and modern architecture. According to the visual effects supervisor Tim McGovern who worked alongside Kurt Wimmer, the fascist architecture was chosen "to make the individual feel small and insignificant so the government seems more powerful." In addition, the modern architecture that is also found in Berlin emphasizes the futuristic and stolid appearance of the city state of Libria. Moreover, while the city state of Libria has thick walls represented by an abandoned fortress-like East German military base, the exterior of the city is filmed in the decrepit neighborhoods of East Germany, where many of the surviving rebels reside. In addition to the geographic location, a few European art directors also made substantial contributions to the production.[3]

Equilibrium's locations include:[3]

Although making a science-fiction movie, Wimmer intentionally avoided using futuristic technology that can become obsolete, and he also decided to set his story in an indeterminate future. “I wanted to create more of an alternate reality than get caught up in the gadgetry of science fiction,” he explains. “In fact, there’s no technology in Equilibrium that doesn’t already exist. It’s more like a parallel universe, the perfect setting for a parable.”[3]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received mixed reviews from critics. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 37% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 83 reviews, with the consensus being "Equilibrium is a reheated mishmash of other sci-fi movies."[5] Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 33 out of 100, based on 22 reviews.[6] The New York Times dismissed Equilibrium for having heavily borrowed from Fahrenheit 451, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Brave New World, and other science-fiction classics.[7] Roger Ebert, however, awarded the film 3 stars out of 4, noting that "Equilibrium would be a mindless action picture, except that it has a mind. It doesn't do a lot of deep thinking, but unlike many futuristic combos of sf and f/x, it does make a statement."[8] On IMDb, the film gained a very high user rating of 7.5.

Wimmer said in a Dreamwatch magazine interview that "the paying customers seemed to get it," and in contrast, the critics 'didn't seem to see that the film had a different message than" Fahrenheit 451 and 1984.[9] Wimmer later said, "Why would I make a movie for someone I wouldn't want to hang out with? Have you ever met a critic who you wanted to party with? I haven't."[10]

Box office[edit]

The film had an estimated production budget of $20 million. Given international pre-release sales had already made a profit, the studio allocated a reduced promotion and advertising budget to avoid the risk of the film becoming a loss-maker; as a consequence, theatrical release was limited.[11]

The film was shown in only 301 theaters at its widest release in the United States, earning $541,512 in its opening week, and only $1.2 million when it closed at December 26, 2002; the film earned $4.1 million internationally, for a total of $5.3 million worldwide.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Equilibrium DVD Commentary: Kurt Wimmer: Chapter 7". Equilibriumfans.com. Retrieved 2009-03-29. 
  2. ^ "Equilibrium (2002) - Trivia". Imdb.com. Retrieved 2009-03-29. 
  3. ^ a b c "Equilibrium Production Notes". compleatseanbean.com. Retrieved 03 December 200. 
  4. ^ http://www.equilibriumfans.com/commentaryb2.htm
  5. ^ "Equilibrium - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2008-01-08. 
  6. ^ "Equilibrium (2002): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2008-01-08. 
  7. ^ Mitchell, Elvis (6 December 2002). "Equilibrium (2002) Film Review". NY Times. Retrieved 19 September 2010. 
  8. ^ "Equilibrium". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  9. ^ "Dreamwatch Interview: Kurt Wimmer Achieving Equilibrium". Dreamwatch. Retrieved Winter 2003. 
  10. ^ "Interview: Kurt Wimmer". Sci-Fi Dimensions. Retrieved April 2003. 
  11. ^ Snider, John C. "Interview: Kurt Wimmer (Writer/Director, Equilibrium)". SciFiDimensions.com. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  12. ^ "Box Office Mojo - Equilibrium". Retrieved 19 September 2010. 

External links[edit]