Equilibrium is an SF action thriller originally released in 2002, starring Christian Bale and set in a dystopian vision of the future where humanity lives in enforced peace, strictly controlled and enforced by a drug called prozium. The theory is that 'feelings' are responsible for war, murder and mayhem, and prozium represses these. Anything that inspires feelings, such as art, literature or music, is classified as 'EC-10' and destroyed, and those who create or hoard such items are summarily executed as 'sense-criminals'.
The government's will is enforced by the Clerics, elite warriors who are trained in the art of 'gun kata', a total mastery of firearms in ranged, close-quarters and melee combat. The Clerics are tasked to seek out and destroy EC-10 materials and attempt to bring down the Underground, a rebel organisation dedicated to restoring senses and feeling to humanity. When one of the Clerics is 'turned' by the Underground, his colleague Preston becomes disturbed and starts his own exploration of what it means to be human.
Equilibrium was somewhat dismissed on release for being a bit of a Matrix rip-off, with its focus on martial arts, gunplay and brooding heroes dressed in black (although Christian Bale is a considerably more intense and charismatic performer than Keanu Reeves), although Equilibrium owes a lot more to prior dystopian/utopian visions such as Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four and computers do not play a significant role. Also like The Matrix, Equilibrium's premise and storyline is full of holes and if you think about it for more than a few minutes, the whole thing falls apart.
Luckily, Equilibrium works better on a thematic basis, asking some interesting (if unoriginal) questions about freedom, responsibility and consequences. It is visually arresting, and the story dodges several tedious cliches and features some genuinely interesting twists along its path. The action sequences are relatively few and brief (possibly a budgetary decision), but when they do take place they are spectacularly executed. On the acting front Christian Bale, Sean Bean and Emily Watson do some excellent work, but the film suffers from weak antagonists who do not present credible threats when stood up against the murderously efficient Preston . The ending is also bemusing, as the scale of the Underground is revealed to be so vast that it is likely they would have succeeded without Preston's intervention anyway.
Equilibrium (***) is a watchable and solidly enjoyable movie which suffers from some major logic problems, but if you can overlook those, it works quite well. The movie is available now on DVD in the UK and USA.