After the third world war the survivors declared that mankind would not survive a forth. As a result the leaders of the new order, lead by a mysterious person only known as "Father", created a utopian society which is devoid of all emotion with the hope that it will end all wars. But utopia comes at a cost. In order to keep the violent human emotions suppressed the population is required to take daily doses of a mind altering drug called Prozium and it is forbidden to use items which could cause emotions, such as music, books and art. Failure to comply will result in death by incineration.
In order to ensure that everyone obeys the strict laws in Libria, an elite fighting group of "Grammaton Clerics" have been created. The Clerics are highly trained in the martial art of Gun Kata and as a result are nearly impossible to beat in a fight. Their sole role is to eliminate those who disobey the rules and destroy any items which contain anything that may cause a human emotion. John Preston is one such cleric, and he's the best there is.
But when John kills his own partner, Partridge, for committing a sense crime he accidentally misses a dose of Prozium and slowly starts to experience human emotions and question the beliefs of Father. As he skips more and more of his doses John finds himself on the side of the same rebels he once hunted and in order to avoid detection by the other clerics he fakes an interest in finding and destroying the leaders of the resistance. But by continuing to venture out of the safety of Libria he soon attracts the unwanted attention of his replacement partner, Brandt.
The picture is clear and precise with a high level of detail throughout. The bit-rate remains high during the film and there are no signs of artifacting, outlining, dust scratches and other picture imperfections. The only downside would have to be the CGI effects which at times can look like a computer console game, although the limited budget accounts for this somewhat. The actual use of colour in this film is an important one and at the beginning of the film when John Preston is nothing but an emotionless robot the colours are bleached with an almost black and white look to them. But as his emotions and feelings gradually appear, so do the rich and vibrant colours which are reproduced admirably. It's a near perfect transfer and a credit to both the films producers and DVD encoders.
Whilst the picture quality is spot on the sound falls over at the first hurdle. Unless you are keen of ear or can easily see the display of your A/V system, you'll soon discover that the default soundtrack selection is Dolby Pro-Logic. However, once you've rectified this problem by selecting the Dolby Digital soundtrack things get back to how they should be. Whilst there is very little to get excited about in the form of surround effects, with only the musical score finding its way to the rear channels, the dialogue is crisp and clear in the centre with some good separation in the front channels. This is especially evident during the actions scenes when individual bullet cases can be heard dropping to the floor in both the left and right channels. The level of the dialogue and action scenes is also well balanced and once a comfortable listening level is found there is never any real need to readjust the volume levels.
The menu system in nicely scored and animated with 3D animations and a number of cut scenes playing in a small portion of the main menu. Extras wise it is a bit of a mixed bag. There's the usual collection of short teaser trailers as well as the main trailer plus an exceedingly short, and near pointless, featurette with only a few short interviews with the cast. There's also a rather pointless option to allow you to jump to the films fight scenes and a rather substandard feature on the Gun Kata martial arts used in the film. I was expecting some sort of featurette only to discover that it was a short bit of computer animation explaining the various moves.
Fortunately, things improve with the two sets of audio commentaries. One commentary track is provided by director Kurt Wimmer whilst the other is again from Kurt Wimmer and producer Lucas Foster. The single commentary from Kurt Wimmer is slightly the more interesting of the two. Mind you, that doesn't mean that the second yack track is a turkey as there are some interesting references to The Matrix in their conversations. These two audio tracks certainly save this collection of extras from dragging down the overall value of the package and fans will certainly be interested to hear their comments.
Equilibrium is a rather interesting film indeed and in many cases it surpasses some of the films it emulates. Whilst it has an air of The Matrix about it, and to be honest it is the film it will be compared to by most, it is a rather unfair comparison. Although the characters do dress remarkably like Neo it was more like a cross between 1984, Logan's Run, Demolition Man and Metropolis. The film even created Gun Kata, a innovative fighting form that merges Western-style gunplay with an Eastern Karate sensibility. And it's impressive too, with some fighting moves that even the likes of Neo from The Matrix would have a spot of trouble with. Never mind the usual flailing of arms and legs, this lot do back flips and use guns, and all at the same time!
The film even manages to be rather thought provoking. Are emotionless humans the ultimate cost of peace and a crime free society? Does evil have to exist in order to give good something to fight? It's also rather ironic that in the films closing scenes you are presented with images of explosions and anarchy. It ultimately leaves you with mixed emotions as to whether it really was a struggle worth fighting and dieing for. If a film can get you thinking like this then you should definitely consider a viewing. Highly recommended.
- Director's commentary
- Producer and Director's commentary
- Finding Equilibrium Featurette
- Television Spots
- Jump to Fight
- Gun Kata Feature