In this scene, our passionless main-character John Preston (Christian Bale) misses a couple of injections of a stupefacient called Prozium resulting in a confusing day of emerging feelings, then finds himself staring into the big brown eyes of a cute little puppy he’s supposed to kill during a raid on a “sense offender” hideout.

Equilibrium (2002) is a dystopian film that was released in the long-forgotten era where dystopian films weren’t cool. Stylish and full of post-Matrix special effects, Equilibrium owes its visual style to the likes of George Orwell’s 1984, with an added dash of science fiction classics. Written and directed by Kurt Wimmer, the film stars Christian Bale, Emily Watson, and Taye Diggs.

Equilibrium follows John Preston (Bale), an enforcement officer in a future in which 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 makes him question his 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 by the regime he is helping to overthrow.

It isn’t a very original movie, but it’s one that knows what it is and what it wants to do: market old ideas to new audiences. It sticks close to dystopian classics and there really isn’t a lot here that would be identified as “original.”

It takes place in “Libria”, a totalitarian city-state, established by the survivors of World War III, where all emotions and emotionally stimulating objects blamed for causing the war have been forbidden.

Gun Kata is the martial arts gunwork, a fictional style of sophisticated close-quarters gunfight resembling a martial arts battle that combines firearms with hand-to-hand combat. The focus of the style is simply to shoot where the foe ought to be when they’re aiming at you and to not be where the foe ought to shoot.

“The gun katas. Through analysis of thousands of recorded gunfights, the Cleric has determined that the geometric distribution of antagonists in any gun battle is a statistically predictable element. The gun kata treats the gun as a total weapon, each fluid position representing a maximum kill zone, inflicting maximum damage on the maximum number of opponents while keeping the defender clear of the statistically traditional trajectories of return fire. By the rote mastery of this art, your firing efficiency will rise by no less than 120%. The difference of a 63% increase to lethal proficiency makes the master of the gun katas an adversary not to be taken lightly.”

— Vice-Counsel DuPont, Equilibrium

The action set pieces are nicely spaced out and well-choreographed, with guns and swords flying left, right and center in a display of orchestrated violence. It’s this aspect in particular that director Kurt Wimmer manages to get spot on, even if his scriptwriting skills lack some polish.

The casting of both Sean Bean and Sean Pertwee is liable to send genre fans mad with delight. Bale, as usual, shines in his role. The film score is highly enjoyable and fits each scene perfectly. It’s silly at times and some of the CGI is ropey but considering the modest budget, we consider Equilibrium worth seeing.

John Preston Defending a Puppy in Equilibrium (2002)

7.5

Movie

6.0/10

John Preston Defending a Puppy

9.0/10

Overall

7.5/10

We like:

  • This inventive, low-budget science-fiction movie stands on its own due to its ingenious fight sequences and to its literate roots in dystopian fiction.