Equilibrium again

Equilibrium [4/5]

This was a movie that I had been looking forward to seeing for a while, ever since I first read a glowing review of it in November. Though the movie was apparently intended for wide release at some point, the studio, for its own mysterious reasons, changed its mind. Instead, Equilibrium ended up with only a limited release and very little advertising, so it had to rely on word-of-mouth to gain even the small audience it ended up with.

The good news was that the movie then quickly made its way to DVD, so I was able to pick up a copy on Saturday. Even though I usually only buy things on DVD that I’ve seen first (and liked), I wasn’t about to let this one pass by after all of the good things I’d read about it.

The film itself combines an intelligent script with some of the best action scenes I’ve seen, at least in a non-Hong Kong release. Jenn already gave a rough outline of the Equilibrium’s plot in her review yesterday, which I guess leaves me free to gush about the things I loved about the movie.

The battles using the special gun-based martial art of the Clerics are just breathtakingly good, and the director managed to create amazing visuals without the use of the wirework and the big-budget special effects used in The Matrix. Now, don’t get me wrong, I thought the visuals in The Matrix were great, but somehow I liked this more.

However, the battles are only part of this movie, so if you don’t like a good deal of plot mixed in with your action you probably want to give this one a pass. I personally found it refreshing to see what was nominally an action movie where the plot felt like more than just a vehicle to move the protagonist from one combat scene to another. Having said that, the plot was sometimes a bit flawed, and obviously it borrowed heavily from sources like 1984, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, as those are pretty interesting sources to be taking ideas from, but sometimes they were used in a less than subtle fashion.

All in all, Equilibrium isn’t a perfect movie, but I think that between the plot and the amazing visuals it’ll bear repeated watching. If you’re a fan of The Matrix, or of HK action flicks, or of dystopian visions of the future, I’d highly recommend finding the DVD of this movie.

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