[box cover]


Kurt Wimmer's Equilibrium (2002) so wants to be The Matrix that it may take you a few minutes to realize that what you're really watching is the bastard child of 1984 and Logan's Run. It also wants to be an action picture, but it gets so bogged down in dreary, dystopian message-slinging that it mostly fails on that level, too. Set in the not-too-distant future after a third world war, the citizens of the world are all emotionless drones thanks to daily injections of a drug called Prozium, which eliminates all pesky feelings. The totalitarian leaders, we find out, decided that wars and violence are caused by humans feeling things too much — so not only are emotion-dampening drugs mandatory, but everything that inspires feelings (like literature, art, music, and attractive home accessories) are illegal, and people who flaunt the law are put to death. At the very top of the food chain when it comes to enforcing these laws are the Clerics, a group of martial arts-trained supercops. Christian Bale plays Cleric John Preston, the best (and most emotionless) of the best, an expert in "gun-kata," the excessively deadly art of, um, flying around and shooting stuff. But when Preston misses his daily dose of Joyless Juice, he starts to feel things — and when he hooks up with a lovely young woman who questions the status quo (Emily Watson), he gets the bug to fight the power. There are a handful of impressive gun battles and wire-fu maneuvers in Equilibrium, as befits a Matrix rip-off, but ultimately the movie sinks through sheer heavy-handedness — there's a scene where the newly awakened Preston is faced with shooting a bunch of contraband pet dogs, for God's sake. While the final fight scenes are well-executed and exciting in a Neo-meets-Agent-Smith sort of a way, writer/director Wimmer (mostly known for penning just-bad-enough-to-not-be-good movies like Sphere, The Recruit, and the remake of The Thomas Crown Affair) basically just warms over the skeletons of Fahrenheit 451 and Brave New World, with a dash of John Woo to thrill the kiddies. Dimension Home Video's DVD release of Equilibrium offers a very clean, rich anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with big, bold Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. On board are two commentary tracks, one with Wimmer all on his own and another with Wimmer and producer Lucas Foster; how interesting you find the yack-tracks depends solely on your fascination with this film — do you really care how many Stedicam takes a specific scene needed? A tepid four-minute "making-of" featurette is included, as well. Check out the trailers for upcoming releases, though — there's a spot for Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill and it's a hoot. Keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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