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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Kurt Wimmer|
|Screenplay by||Kurt Wimmer|
|Music by||Klaus Badelt|
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
|Box office||$5.3 million|
The film follows John Preston (Bale), an enforcement officer in a future in which both feelings and artistic expression are outlawed and citizens take daily injections of drugs to suppress their emotions. After accidentally missing a dose, Preston begins to experience emotions, which makes him question his own morality and moderate his actions while attempting to remain undetected by the suspicious society in which he lives. Ultimately, he aids a resistance movement using advanced martial arts, which he was taught by the very regime he is helping to overthrow.
Libria, a totalitarian city-state, was established by the survivors of World War III, where all emotions and emotionally stimulating objects blamed for causing the war have been forbidden. Those in violation are labeled "Sense Offenders" and are put to death. The population suppresses all emotion with a daily injection of "Prozium II". Libria is governed by the Tetragrammaton Council, led by "Father", who only communicates propaganda through giant video screens throughout the city. At the pinnacle of Librian law enforcement are the Grammaton Clerics, trained in the martial art of gun kata. Clerics frequently raid properties in the city and the "Nether" – regions outside the city – to search for and destroy illegal materials (art, literature, and music) and execute the people hiding them. A resistance movement, known as the "Underground", emerges with the goal of toppling Father and the Tetragrammaton Council.
In 2072, John Preston is a high-ranking Cleric whose wife, Viviana, was executed as a Sense Offender, leaving him a single father of his daughter and son. Following a raid, Preston notices his partner, Errol Partridge, saves a book of poems instead of turning it in for incineration. After tracing Partridge to the Nether and finding him reading the book, Partridge explains that he gladly pays the heavy price of feeling emotions; Preston executes him as he slowly reaches for his gun.
Preston accidentally breaks his daily vial of Prozium but is unable to replace it before going on the next raid. He begins to experience brief episodes of emotion that evoke memories, stir feelings, and make him more aware of his surroundings; he intentionally skips more doses of Prozium and hides them behind the mirror in his bathroom.
Partridge is replaced with career-conscious Brandt, who expresses admiration for Preston's "uncompromising" work as a cleric. On a raid, they arrest Sense Offender Mary O'Brien. To Brandt's surprise, Preston prevents him from executing O'Brien, saying she should be kept alive for interrogation. Brandt grows suspicious of Preston's hesitation. As Preston feels remorse for having killed Partridge, he develops an emotional relationship with O'Brien and uncovers clues that lead to meeting Jurgen, the leader of the Underground resistance. Jurgen is planning to disrupt Prozium production to spark a populace uprising and convinces Preston that Father must be assassinated.
Vice-Counsel DuPont meets with Preston to reveal that there is a traitor in the upper ranks of the Clerics. Although DuPont appears to know it is Preston, he assigns him the task of uncovering and stopping the traitor. Relieved, Preston accepts and renews a promise to locate the Underground's leadership. O'Brien is set to be executed and Jurgen advises against interfering, as it could sabotage plans for the revolution. Unable to bear her death, Preston unsuccessfully tries to stop it. As he has an emotional breakdown in the streets, Brandt arrests him and brings him before DuPont. However, Preston tricks DuPont into believing that Brandt is the traitor. Following Brandt's arrest, Preston is informed that a search of his home will take place as a formality. He rushes home to destroy the hidden vials only to find his son, who stopped taking Prozium after his mother died, already has.
Jurgen has Preston capture the leaders of the resistance to gain the government's trust and get close enough to assassinate Father. Preston is granted an exclusive audience with Father only to discover that Brandt was not actually arrested; he was part of a ruse to expose Preston and the Underground. DuPont reveals that he is the real Father, having secretly replaced the original Father after his death, and that he does not take Prozium and can feel emotions. He taunts Preston, asking how it felt to betray the Underground. Enraged, Preston fights his way through an army of bodyguards to DuPont's office and kills Brandt in a katana battle. DuPont and Preston have a gun kata showdown; Preston wins and DuPont pleads for his life, asking, "Is it really worth the price?" Responding with Partridge's last words, "I pay it gladly", Preston kills DuPont. He destroys the command center that broadcasts Father propaganda. Preston watches with satisfaction, as the revolution begins with the Underground's destruction of Prozium manufacturing facilities.
- Christian Bale as John Preston
- Emily Watson as Mary O'Brien
- Taye Diggs as Andrew Brandt
- Angus Macfadyen as Vice-Counsel DuPont
- Sean Bean as Errol Partridge
- Matthew Harbour as Robbie Preston
- William Fichtner as Jurgen
- Sean Pertwee as Father
- David Hemmings as Proctor
- Emily Siewert as Lisa Preston
- Alexa Summer as Viviana Preston[VP 1]
- Maria Pia Calzone as Preston's wife[VP 1]
- Dominic Purcell as Seamus
- Brian Conley as Reading room overseer
- Kurt Wimmer (cameo) as Rebel victim
- Viviana Preston: Alexa Summer and Maria Pia Calzone both portrayed the same character in the film, but in the credits appear separately as "Viviana Preston" and "Preston's wife" respectively.
Angus Macfadyen's character, Vice-Counsel DuPont, describes the fictional fighting style gun kata in the film:
Through analysis of thousands of recorded gunfights, the Cleric has determined that the geometric distribution of antagonists in any gun battle is a statistically-predictable element. The gun kata treats the gun as a total weapon, each fluid position representing a maximum kill zone, inflicting maximum damage on the maximum number of opponents, while keeping the defender clear of the statistically-traditional trajectories of return fire. By the rote mastery of this art, your firing efficiency will rise by no less than 120%. The difference of a 63% increased lethal proficiency makes the master of the gun katas an adversary not to be taken lightly.
Kata (型, かた) is a Japanese word for standard forms of movements and postures in karate, jujutsu, aikido, and many other traditional martial arts. Gun kata is based on the premise that, given the positions of the participants in a gun battle, all trajectories of fire are statistically predictable. By memorizing the positions, one can fire at the most likely location of an enemy without aiming at him in the traditional sense. By the same token, the trajectories of incoming fire are also statistically predictable, so by assuming the appropriate stance, one can keep clear of the most likely path of enemy bullets.
The gun kata shown in Equilibrium is a hybrid mix of the film's writer and director Kurt Wimmer's own style of gun kata (invented in his backyard) and the martial arts style of the fight choreographer Jim Vickers, with elements of the Chinese Wing Chun martial art style.
Filming began on October 19, 2000 and ended on December 10, 2000
Most of the filming used locations in Berlin, due to its unique mixture of fascist and modern architecture. According to the visual effects supervisor Tim McGovern, who worked alongside Kurt Wimmer, the fascist architecture was chosen "to make the individual feel small and insignificant so the government seems more powerful". In addition, the modern architecture of Berlin emphasizes the futuristic and stolid appearance of the city-state of Libria. Libria's thick walls are represented by an abandoned fortress-like East German military base, while the exterior of the city, where many of the surviving rebels reside, was filmed in decrepit neighborhoods of East Germany. In addition to the geographic location, a few European art directors also made substantial contributions to the production.
Equilibrium's locations include:
- Olympic Stadium (Berlin), built for the 1936 Summer Olympics.
- Deutschlandhalle, also built for the 1936 Summer Olympics.
- Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
- Berlin Tempelhof Airport, construction of which was begun before the Nazi era, but which was completed during World War II and displays characteristics of the Nazis' architectural style.
- Bundestag (Berlin U-Bahn) station, a modern subway station near the new Reichstag building, plus some long tunnels of the Berlin U-Bahn. At the time the film was made, the Bundestag was unopened, but in 2009, it went into service.
- Decrepit East German neighborhoods, as well as an abandoned massive East German military base.[which?]
- The EUR, Rome district, built during the fascist rule of Benito Mussolini.
Although making a science fiction movie, Wimmer intentionally avoided using futuristic technology that could become obsolete, and he also decided to set his story in an indeterminate future. "I wanted to create more of an alternate reality than get caught up in the gadgetry of science fiction," he explained. "In fact, there’s no technology in Equilibrium that doesn’t already exist. It’s more like a parallel universe, the perfect setting for a parable."
The review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 38% of critics gave the film positive reviews and an average rating of 4.8/10, based on 84 reviews, with the site's consensus stating "Equilibrium is a reheated mishmash of other sci-fi movies." Metacritic gave the film a score of 33 out of 100, based on reviews from 22 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".
Roger Ebert awarded the film 3 stars out of 4, noting that "Equilibrium would be a mindless action picture, except that it has a mind. It doesn't do a lot of deep thinking, but unlike many futuristic combos of sf and f/x, it does make a statement."
Wimmer said in a Dreamwatch magazine interview that "the paying customers seemed to get it," and said the critics "didn't seem to see that the film had a different message than" Fahrenheit 451 or 1984. Responding to the critics' views, Wimmer later said, "Why would I make a movie for someone I wouldn't want to hang out with? Have you ever met a critic who you wanted to party with? I haven't."
The film had an estimated production budget of $20 million. International pre-release sales had already made a profit, so the studio reduced the film's promotion and advertising budget to avoid the risk of the film losing money; as a consequence, theatrical release was limited.
The film was shown in only 301 theaters at its widest release in the United States, earning $541,512 in its opening week, and only $1.2 million when it closed on December 26, 2002; the film earned $4.1 million internationally, for a total of $5.3 million worldwide.
- "EQUILIBRIUM (15)". British Board of Film Classification. November 25, 2002. Retrieved November 17, 2014.
- Equilibrium (budget), The Numbers. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
- Equilibrium (box-office performance), The Numbers. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
- "Equilibrium DVD Commentary: Kurt Wimmer: Chapter 7". Equilibriumfans.com. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
- "Equilibrium Production Notes". compleatseanbean.com. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
- Equilibrium DVD Commentary: Wimmer & Foster: Chapter 2
- "Equilibrium - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2008-01-08.
- "Equilibrium (2002): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2008-01-08.
- Mitchell, Elvis (6 December 2002). "Equilibrium (2002) Film Review". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 September 2010.
- "Equilibrium". Chicago Sun-Times.
- "Dreamwatch Interview: Kurt Wimmer Achieving Equilibrium". Dreamwatch. Winter 2003.
- Snider, John C. "Interview: Kurt Wimmer (Writer/Director, Equilibrium)". SciFiDimensions.com. Sci-Fi Dimensions. Archived from the original on June 21, 2003. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
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