October 13, 2014

movie mondays: a great sci-fi film you've never seen

I'm introducing a new series today: Movie Mondays. I may miss some weeks because, you know, life, but I'm hoping to have a movie-related post most Mondays.

About 10 years ago, my brother told me about this science fiction movie he'd seen. He told me I'd love it, and he gave me a copy to back up his claim. It took me a while, but I did watch it. And he was right--I loved it.

I just recently noticed that Equilibrium is available to stream on Amazon Prime, so I watched it again. It's just as great as I remembered.

Equilibrium stars a pre-Batman Christian Bale as John Preston, a cleric in post-World War III Libria. Clerics are responsible for ferreting out "sense offenders"--those who cease taking their mandated feelings-eliminating drugs. They also are charged with destroying contraband including art, music, and literature.

When John realizes his own partner (Sean Bean) is a sense offender, he begins to question the necessity of eradicating emotion. When he stops taking the drug, he opens himself up to a whole new world of love, anger, and grief, and he makes it his mission to bring down "Father," the all-powerful government ruler.

I don't know about you, but I don't even remember Equilibrium's 2002 release, and it only made a little over $1 million in its entire US theatrical run. According to Rotten Tomatoes, only 37% of critics liked it, deciding that "Equilibrium is a reheated mishmash of other sci-fi movies." By contrast, 82% of viewers liked it.

I can see where the comparisons to other sci-fi movies come in, especially if you compare it to The Matrix, which released a few years before Equilibrium. Both feature men in long black coats who use guns and martial art to defeat their enemies. Both John and Neo could be seen as the saviors of humanity (though Neo's role as a Christ-figure is much more clearly defined). In message, however, Equilibrium is more in line with Nineteen Eighty-Four and Harrison Bergeron. And really, what idea hasn't been done before in some form? I don't think it's so much like other films that it can't stand on its own.

If you enjoy science fiction or dystopian films, I definitely recommend Equilibrium.

Stream it on Amazon Prime.

Content note: This film is extremely violent--however, it is, for the most part, bloodless. I can't recall hearing a single swear word, but IMDb's content warnings page says the "f" and "s" words are each used twice.


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