Day Seventeen: Equilibrium (MotM 2018)


(“Proposed” by Karandi.)

I have no idea if my aniblogging compatriot is at all invested emotionally in this film, because this is one of those films that takes some digging.

I’ve never seen The Matrix or 1984: two fictional sources many believe this film steals ideas from. I can’t say whether this film is as “blatant” in its thievery as many critics claim it is, but from knowing enough of the two inspirations, I can definitely say there are shades of it throughout. And it’s decent. The prospect of determining who we are as a species and what makes us human. Whether we cherish free will and chaos over oppressed order. This deep thinking is rooted within Equilibrium and is by far the most interesting and recommendable thing about its entirety.

The not recommendable part is EVERYTHING ELSE.

Execution is lacking. Severely lacking. The dedication to concocting the spirit of free will and emotional prominence in a dulled society takes all the intelligence of the film’s execution for itself, and leaves the more practical measures to suffer through mediocrity. Should you ask me what a good word for this movie would be, it would be “Dumb.” An unprecedented amount of logic-busting resolutions, rivaling that of The Last Jedi, pours itself all over the body of the film’s more interesting underground. And because they wanted to make it more like The Matrix (apparently), they had to make the lead a “badass with guns” trope who could overpower anyone without even trying. Seriously, the last ten minutes is so anticlimactic it may as well not have even happened. Fuck, none of this film would have happened past the first half hour if anyone in the “evil” organization had any brains!

“Taking itself too seriously” is another common critique of Equilibrium. I could definitely see cases of this, but I found the complete nonsense of the film’s execution through an incredibly OP lead and hilariously inept baddies more paramount to its failure. Certain lines, especially from the lead’s son, were outright cringey and out of place. Various situations that would give rise to problematic events feel somewhat rushed. And on top of what I already find an unfitting action side to the film, I have trouble believing the core message of the film itself: the banishment of all emotions.

To drive out all emotions from human beings. Fine, I’ll accept that. While essentially impossible, I will excuse it for the sake of the movie’s message. Yet, we’re treated to characters who smile, who take pride in their work/accomplishments, who suspect, who rage, and who fear. All of these are emotions, and these emotions are shown by the people who shouldn’t have them. If they were really emotionless, they’d be blank-faced all the time and never assume anything. Part of me wonders if this was intentional for the sake of showing that those in power bend their own rules to cement their own power. I’d believe it, but it still felt odd when despite these characters showcasing these small emotional quirks around people, nothing was ever said of it. Almost like “emotions” translates to “basic emotions”: happy, sad, fear, anger, surprise (another one that’s ignored), and disgust. Inside Out. You know.

I liked it for what it wanted to do. I didn’t like it because it was really stupid. It glossed over the more logical aspects of keeping a civilization like this in order to make itself feel more in tune with its message. I would argue that this cannot be done—in order to make things logical, one must work to make them so. They don’t here, and that’s a shame. It had the ideas, just not the tools.

Final Score: 4/10

The rating for all other films can be found at Letterboxd.

For more, check out the March of the Movies Archive!

5 thoughts on “Day Seventeen: Equilibrium (MotM 2018)

  1. I’m glad you watched it, though. I didn’t really think you’d like it, but I prefer this over either the Matrix or 1984. The idea is something I’m more interested in than the ones behind the Matrix and the stupid and over the top action is more engaging than anything on screen in 1984 (that said, the book 1984 is a gem and should be read). I certainly read those in power as not being on the dose which explains a lot of their emoting when they really shouldn’t be, though there are some undeniably stupid sequences throughout the course of the movie.
    Overall though, this is one that is fun to watch with someone, talk about, pretend like understanding bullet trajectories can make you completely bullet proof and then leave on the shelf for the next time you want to go through all of that again.

    1. Funny how I’m the only person I know who recommends reading The Dispossessed (LeGuin’s best work) instead of Orwell’s 1984, as being superior book, or possibly “Homage to Catalonia” if you insist on Orwell as its his autobiography and inspired 1984, which is actually about Burma, not England like everybody thinks. Orwell served in Burma after WW2.

  2. Its like Ultraviolet without the good soundtrack, and genderflipped. Its not a good movie, as you said, because it is dumb. Ultraviolet is best watched as a 90 minute music video, btw. Not as a movie. If you treat it like a music video it is far more bearable. These are both films which are dumb and shouldn’t have been made, but someone did and you can feel glad you didn’t have to pay to see them.

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