Movie of the Day – Equilibrium

One of my favorite movie terms that reviewers or Directors use to describe their style of movie is Gun Fu.  For those that aren’t familiar with the term, Gun Fu is the incorporation of gun play mixed with fluid styles of Kung Fu.  If you are familiar with John Woo movies (Face/Off and Hard Boiled), Woo usually has his hero dealing death with dual pistols with elegance and grace.  We watch gun play happen in close quarter areas where the hero is shooting while jumping through the air, sliding under a table only to fire at a  hapless villain or using the weapon as a melee weapon.  This is more showy gun fighting rather than standard gun fighting, like you find in war movies.  Heroes are stationary while shooting and not generally duel wielding guns and doing combat rolls on the ground to avoid fire.  Gun Fu can be pretty bad ass when incorporated smoothly into a movie and along with John Woo, Kurt Wimmer is another Director who loves to incorporate this style into his movies.

One of my favorite under appreciated sci-fi movies is Equilibrium, a movie that does Gun Fu better than most action directors.  The main hero of the movie is a killing machine versed in the way of Gunkata, a more martial arts oriented style of Gun Fu that Wimmer came up with in his backyard.  The movie itself is a straight up action movie with science fiction leanings.  The movie unfortunately bombed at the box office and has since found a proper place as cult movie.  So I am giving it some here today and let’s start with the plot of the movie.

The movie takes place in a dystopian future, where Earth has been ravaged by a third world war.  Libria is the new mecca of civilization and a totalitarian government is established to rule over the people.  In order to control the masses, Prozium a form of Prozac, is given to the masses to control human emotion.  Emotions is said to the be the root of all the worlds problem.  Emotion leads to feelings or love, hate, anger, depression and other clouding feelings.  Along with Prozium doses, the government has start to destroy content they deem EC-10 for Emotion content.  By getting rid of paintings, music, books and other artifacts that cause emotions, this should further lead to the elimination of free thought.  Conformity is the norm and is enforced, ironically, by the governments use of Clerics, or elite soldiers.

The movie centers on one of the highest order of clerics, the Grammaton Cleric, John Preston (Christian Bale) and his enforcement of the governments laws and the destruction of the resistance movement.  John Preston has been the most loyal of cleric and is the favored soldier by the figure head known as Father.  Preston is forced to dispatch his partner after he ceases continuation of his Prozium doses and starts to have emotions.  His partner explains that having feelings is a price he would gladly pay in death and this startles Preston that a high ranking officer willingly refuses to dose.  The next day Preston accidentally breaks his daily vial of Prozium and starts to experience feelings.  He isn’t able to get a new dosage so his daily activities are incredibly difficult since his emotions are starting to allow him to see what horrors he is committing.  Members of the resistance start to take notice of his feelings and partner with him to take down Father.  After Preston befriends a woman who gets him to feel love and attachment, her execution is what sparks his breakdown and Preston’s new partner, Andrew Brandt (Taye Diggs) brings him in for judgement.  Preston deceives the council and says his actions is get to close to the resistance.

So now the resistance hatch a plan to turn themselves in with the help of Preston and this will grant him council with Father.  Once the plan is hatched, the resistance is jailed, Preston is given a chance to meet with Father, and this is where things go balls out.

So a long description of the story of Equilibrium, but this serves to highlight several complaints that I have with the movie.  The concept of controlling the masses with a drug is interesting as the movie takes cues from Dystopian writings like 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and A Brave New World.  The might of the government is to control what content the masses see, so censoring books and art is a good way to control free thought and freedom of expression.  One of the problems I have is that their are family units in the movie, including Preston’s, that exhibit love.  They care for one another even when they all dose.  So having children requires sex, which requires some sort of love and to raise children means the people must have compassion.  This is a glaring flaw in the movie about how emotions need to be abolished, but yet you see scenes of family units living together.

The movie attempts to be a lot deeper with its subject matter, emotions and trying to control freewill.  Wimmer uses a lot of tropes of sci-fi dystopian futures, but it gets lost in all the action that happens that scenes of exposition seemed forced and not at all fulfilling to the viewer.  I think what the movie does best is the action sequences.  Wimmer brings his Gunkata style of action scenes to brunt by making the Grammaton Clerics to be this invincible force of bullet storming  mayhem.  You see several scenes of what Gunkata means, diagrams that explain how it works and why it makes the user of Gunkata complete badasses.  Every scene that we see Preston in, shows him dispatching legions of resistance and government fighters with dual pistols and then switching it up and using the guns as melee weapons.  You get a gritty and new style of action as it assaults your face with scene after scene of gun shoot outs.

The final climax of the movie where the showdown between Preston and personal guards of Father is ridiculously amazing to watch.  We see Preston go from dual wielding guns, to doing things the old fashion way with samurai swords and one last amazing display of what Gunkata is all about.  The final scene is something you must see.

It is a shame that the movie didn’t get a wider release or even get more praise.  The movie is not packed with unknowns as you have a pre-Batman Christian Bale, Taye Diggs, Emily Blunt, Sean Bean and William Fitcher.  These are well respected actors and a rather great ensemble cast for sci-fi film.  The action is top notch and the story is not terrible, but there are some plot holes that kind of make the story less believable ( I know I know, it’s a sci-fi movie).

So take some time out of your night, add this to your Netflix list and enjoy some sweet, sweet Gun Fu.

About Nick
I am just another blogger putting his thoughts into a website. My love is movies so most of my musings will be movie related. I work as an online marketer for an advertising company and when I am not earning a paycheck, I moonlight as a vigilante film blogger.

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