Directed by Kurt Wimmer, starring Christian Bale, Emily Watson, Taye Diggs, Sean Bean, Angus MacFadyen, William Fichtner, Matthew Harbour.
Take the martial arts moves of 'The Matrix', the dystopian coldness of 'Gattaca' and 'Brazil', the love-affair-under-an-all-seeing eye of '1984' and mix with the concrete jungle setting of 'Blade Runner' and you'll get 'Equilibrium'. There's nothing new here but director/writer Kurt Wimmer has still managed to fashion something worthwhile out of everyone else's constituent parts.
In the futuristic world of Libria, emotion is suppressed by a strict fascist regime which forbids feelings, has outlawed and destroyed literature and art and requires all its citizens to take a daily dose of an emotion-inhibiting drug called Prozium. Dissident 'sense-offenders' - those who don't take their pills, are guilty of reading hoarded books or looking at secreted paintings - are hunted down by merciless marital-art-trained law-enforcement officers called Clerics.
Christian Bale is top ranking Cleric John Preston, a dedicated product of the system who can see his own wife incinerated for Sense Offences without blinking an eyelid. But, despite his unfeeling exterior - and Bale, as he showed in 'American Psycho', can do unfeeling exteriors like few others - Preston slowly begins to crumble. He unlawfully keeps a book of WB Yeats' poetry, encounters passionate Sense Offender Mary O'Brien (Watson in a small but key role) and stops taking his Prozium.
These actions cause Preston's immaculately well ordered life to spiral out of control. His new partner Brandt (Diggs) becomes suspicious, his creepy son seems to be spying on him, he has an uncontrollable urge to rearrange his immaculately Muji-ed desk and his association with an exceptionally cute dog eventually results in the hunter becoming the hunted.
Wimmer uses a simple but effective palette, filming the locations and inhabitants of Liberia with colours from the cold end of the spectrum - grays, blacks and blues - while reds and yellows denote Sense Offenders and their habitations. The cityscape looks appropriately austere and Bale spends his time posing in monochromatic mandarin-collared suits. The fighting is similarly stylish, an exciting and fast moving combination of marital arts and gun-slinging that Wimmer calls Gun-Kata. While little logic and less sense applies to these scenes, especially in the ridiculously easy denouement (where did all the baddies suddenly go?), they're still edge-of-your-seat exciting.
Although Wimmer's points about the dangers of censorship and the nanny state may not be altogether convincing, 'Equilibrium' is still over 100 minutes of slick entertainment that won't let you down.