Hey everyone, it’s been a while, I know. Working on it.
You get this gem today and then the new series I’ve been talking about for weeks will finally be getting under way on Friday: Winners & Losers. Enjoy!
“To seek out and eradicate the true source of man’s inhumanity to man: his ability to feel.”
I would argue the true source of man’s inhumanity to man is insensitivity and the inability to feel. The above statement doesn’t make much sense to me. Alas, that is how Kurt Wimmer’s sci-fi unfolds.
Dystopian films are becoming their own genre these days, a genre that I readily engage myself in at every opportunity because I, like most people, find myself obsessed with the future. What does it hold in store for me? What will go wrong or right for the world? Lots of trivial and not so trivial thoughts swirl through the endless recesses of the mind searching for clues to questions that will remain unanswered.
And all of the above is why the genre never gets old for me. The same goes for post-apocalyptic material. Lots of pandering about civilization, societal norms and the necessity or lack thereof for law and order. What would happen if the world went haywire always seems to keep my attention, partly because it allows the viewer to explore the unknown. As much as I love dramas, original scripting is paramount to making an original story and original scripts seem to become as rare as items in the U.S. that read “Made in America” at times. Therefore, land unexplored, such as the futuristic action hook we see here, are much more profitable and entertaining.
To return to my original point though, Equilibrium didn’t start out that great, running with a shoddy premise at best that was a “just go with it” element and if you’ve been reading this blog fairly regularly then you know that I hate such elements. Movies should not require realism to go on a Sheetz run in order to be entertaining.
Laughable stunt choreography emulated lazy work behind the camera and further agitated me, which brings me to my next point.
Thank God for Christian Bale. The guy is cinema gold. Sure, he has a blunder here and there but Bale is one of Hollywood’s brightest stars right now, plain and simple. He’s got plenty of potential and I can’t wait to see what he churns out next.
Here, John Preston (Bale) has the spotlight and will retain it from curtain to curtain, leaving little room for anyone other than expositional characters, narrowing our focus to Preston’s inner turmoil. Preston lives in a society where signs of emotion are a deathly offense and anything that channels emotion, such as love, art or literature, must be destroyed. Medicine must be taken to suppress feelings and individuality is frowned upon. When Preston decides to not take the dosage and begins to feel, he’s unsure which path to choose.
Another Kurt Vonnegut spin-off. Yay!
Jokes aside, Equilibrium isn’t stealing from Vonnegut, although the argument could be made that Equilibrium really wanted to be The Matrix. The idea has a Swiss cheese complexion (filled with holes) but still finds a way to be tasty on occasion. Note that on occasion does not mean regularly.
Because as much as I wanted to like Equilibrium, there wasn’t enough substance to hold me over despite its modest run-time. Christian Bale is great and the highlight of the film, but a lack of secondary depth hurt the final product when a few stand-ins could have ignited the dormant coals in the oven.
The tools to start the fire were there, too. William Fichtner and Sean Bean were present for filming. Giving the guys roles where they did something significant would have been a good start. Instead, Bean plays dead, again and Fichtner’s given a role that could have been given to some guy off the streets it was so meaningless. Wasted talent in films is like benching your star players for the big game. If you benched Mike Trout for the World Series, you’d never have a job again. Even McDonald’s would be like, “Sorry dude, but you’re too stupid for us.” Why directors continue to get away with giving fourth-string roles to capable actors is one of the most perturbing questions on my mind when it comes to cinema. That shouldn’t be a thing.
Something else that shouldn’t be a thing? These action takes. Impossible to be taken seriously and choreographed to be mocked by yoga instructors and physical therapists, Bale’s robotic ligament movements and odd postures make it look like he’s posing for a photo shoot. If anyone actually tried to fight like this, they’d get shot in the face and be left to rot. It was original, Wimmer, I’ll give you that, but the answer is no. No, I’m not watching that with a shred of seriousness and no, it was not a good idea to try to put that on film. You made the great Christian Bale look like a porch monkey. Nice job, idiot.
I laughed at the stupidity and got some entertainment out of it, but it stilted the tempo and the tone of a film that was clearly aiming at a dramatic payoff and missed the mark because of it.
Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.
80-89 It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable Guy, The Cabin in the Woods, Tears of the Sun, Edge of Tomorrow, The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
50-59 This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (Run All Night, Rage, Zoolander, The Expendables 3, Homefront)
40-49 This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Erased, I, Frankenstein, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Billy Madison)
30-39 Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Centurion, Planet of the Apes, Stonados, Redemption, Pride and Prejudice)
20-29 What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The Colony, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, The Grey, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Thor: The Dark World)
0-19 Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (Sabotage, Gallowwalkers, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, Safe, Watchmen)
My score for Equilibrium: 76.
Critics bashed the film for stealing material and the argument could definitely be made, but Wimmer tries to flavor Equilibrium to separate himself from his predecessors. In some ways he succeeds, but standing alone on stilts is a hard trick to pull off on a character-driven story and Christian Bale. That said, Bale keeps the film standing long enough to create a fair impression but not one that will grasp to my memory strands for too long.