“But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”
A rather lovely poem that sets up things early on in Equilibrium. It could even lull you into thinking that the film will take a deep look at how our emotions define us as human beings, with some natty action to sweeten the deal. In reality, it’s much more about popping a pre-Batman Christian Bale (Top Cleric and all-round bad-ass John Preston) into a Matrix -esque costume, tossing him a couple of pistols and a cool watch, and letting him have it.
Despite the lack of depth, the apparently thin budget, and weird way everyone is meant to be devoid of emotion but show clear instances of it, I like this film. Here’s a few very specific things I think are great :-
- Sean Bean. He does what he does and he does it well.
- Gun Kata – A quite ridiculous and nonsensical style of gun fighting that nonetheless looks cool and unique.
- An odd pronunciation of “coolly”. I still say it this way to my brother now. Watch the film and find out.
- A cute puppy. No explanation needed.
- Android watch. The watch the Clerics wear intrigued me so much that I got one. It still works and I wear it every so often.
There are some great moments amid it all, such as when Preston’s new feels lead to him becoming agitated by the uniformity of his desk and stationary. Or when he (quite rightly) kicks off because of how a dog is treated. John Wick would be proud of the sheer amount of pistol action that takes place. Or when he tells someone “If I was going to shoot you I’d shoot you in the face”. Classic.
Preston’s arc is clear, and perhaps the most defined aspect of the movie. It’s not subtle—at one point he literally has blood on his hands—but Bale does bring intensity to it.
Brief note – One of the core messages from the leadership through the film, that ‘It is not the message it is our faithfulness to it’, is a bit heavy handed, but also dangerously prescient.
It’s an odd one, in that it feels like there was a battle. Someone wanted a more intimate portrayal of a man waking up and fighting the system he swore to uphold. Someone else wanted a man heel flicking an assault rifle into his hands from behind him. Equilibrium doesn’t settle on either—the sheer amount of contrivances could undermine any argument that it’s anything more than a cash-in on the Matrix boom and Bale’s rising star—and ends ups in a weird space.
But at least it tried something.