Directed by Kurt Wimmer
Attention-major spoilers ahead!!!!
This was a total blast.
When I watched it for the first time, i was blown away by it, and I have seen it numerous times after that.
Reason beeing-the ultra-cool gun-kata scenes. The action scenes in general , but the gun-kata scenes especially.
What is gun-kata , you might ask?
Well, it`s basically a sequence of moves, like in martial arts (Kata).
In this case, it is about the handguns involved, firing in different directions, in a ( I suppose) mathematical order, to hit as many of your opponents as possible, as fast as possible.
It is very effective, of course, that`s the point.
So, even if you don`t see your opponents, you use this technique, and you can be pretty sure, that, after this routine, nobody is left standing.
In a futuristic world, a strict regime has eliminated war by suppressing emotions: books, art and music are strictly forbidden and feeling is a crime punishable by death. Cleric John Preston (Bale) is a top ranking government agent responsible for destroying those who resist the rules. When he misses a dose of Prozium, a mind-altering drug that hinders emotion, Preston, who has been trained to enforce the strict laws of the new regime, suddenly becomes the only person capable of overthrowing it.
The clerics are the emotion police, if you will.
They enforce the law against a few rebels left, who can still feel, and keep illegal stuff around , like music , books, art in general.
And a free will, of course.
The clerics are pretty effective, due to their training .The Gun-Kata is an art, only they get teached in.
Christian Bale is John Preston, a cleric, who seems to be very good at what he does-finding the „terrorists“. He is questioned by his superior, because he seems to be able to tell very accurately, who is guilty and who is not, which could mean, he also has feelings.But he can dismiss the suspicions, for now.
He even acts on his long-time partner, after he observes changes in his behaviour, and executes him. John has dreams about his wife, who, 4 years ago, got put to death for violating the nr. 1 rule. He has two kids, a son and a daughter. One morning, he accidentally breaks his vial with the daily dose of the drug. His son urges him to go report and get a new one at the Equlibrium( some sort of administrative office HQ)
He is assigned a new partner, who picks him up, just a few steps away from the Equlibrium. He decides not to go in, and leaves with him in a car.
They arrest a woman, who doesn`t take her drugs and keeps illegal stuff at her home.
He interrogates her, she reminds him of his wife, and the effects of not taking the drug seems to affect him already. When he witnesses the sun coming up the next morning, he gets ecited and scared, reaching for the drug, but ends up not taking it. In the office, he starts rearranging his desk, which is suspicious to his partner, but he talks his way out of it.
At the next raid on rebels, he gets even more touchy. He discovers items like a record player and a snow globe, all the illegal items you could think of. He plays a record, and begins to cry, as some classical music plays.
He raises more suspicion, when he keeps a book from the site, or when he saves a puppy from beeing shot. He later gets contact to the resistance and when Mary, the woman he arrested gets executed, he is bent on bringing down the system.
That spawns even more action, of course. The showdown is nothing short of awesome. The movie has a few limitations, budget wise, but that`s only apparent with some cheap CGI shots. Everything else is looking pretty good. One thing I liked was that the guns have cross-like muzzle –flashes, that look like the systems symbol.Nice touch. And , last spoiler -his kids exchanged his drugs with placebos, so he actually could feel, even before he decided to stop taking the drug.
There are a few great scenes, i can`t describe all of it, i already spoiled quite a bit.
This is innovative action cinema, mainly the gun kata adds something new to the genre , while of course lots of other stuff is reminding you of other stories or movies.
It´s not re-inventing the wheel, but makes for a great addiction to sci-fi action cinema.
Kurt Wimmer refined the gun kata later in ULTRAVIOLET, as he wasn`t happy with the way the gun kata was shown here
The film’s fight choreographer Jim Vickers and Kurt Wimmer had some slight disagreement on how the martial art Gun Kata should be performed on screen. You can see little friendly jabs to the choreographer in the film. When Kurt Wimmer performs the Gun Kata at the beginning, you see it’s very fluid and smooth. The way it’s actually used in the film is very rigid with a few flowing moves thrown in. Also, in Angus Macfadyen‘s speech to the Clerics in training, he says “each fluid position”, slightly stressing the word “fluid”. Wimmer wanted Gun Kata to be smooth and soft-style. Vickers, trained in hard-style karate among other things, modified the original Gun Kata slightly, and because of budgetary restraints, that’s the version we see in the final film. Wimmer has said his own vision of Gun Kata can be seen in most of its glory in his next film, Ultraviolet.
All said and done, it is one of the Bale movies I love. I don`t really liked him as Batman, or in Terminator Salvation, but in this and American Psycho, The Machinist and Harsh Times, he is just excellent.
It is a shame, that this didn`t play in theatres, only at certain film festivals. It must kick all kinds of ass on the big screen.
There is even a game mod for Max Payne 2, called hall of mirrors,where you can play the final battle of the movie…awesome stuff.