Hello to all those faithfully reading and hopefully enjoying this effort to make even the worst horror movie more watcha... aw, screw that - I'm not that good. If a movie makes you cringe because yet another batch of unlikable teens that are pushing 30 are inching toward their deaths, having a party no one does anywhere ever, a paranormal movie is boring you to tears with unending pans of empty rooms, or thanks to CGI technology when people finally bite it, their blood squirts everywhere except on the victim, the ground, the people next to them... you're in good company and this is the right place for you.

Monday, December 16, 2013

REACHING BACK FOR AN OLDIE BUT GOODIE... JUST BECAUSE I'M TOO LAZY TO DO A NEW ONE TODAY

Equilibrium (2002)

This is a really preachy film with a lot of cool fighting scenes. It stars Christian Bale (who I really liked then - that wore off quickly), Sean Bean (who not only is not on the movie poster but is way down the actor list - and yes, he dies in it - it's in his contract), and Taye Diggs who I could watch in anything.


Of course the movie is about Bale who plays a guy named John Preston in a future world gone mad (I think the word 'dystopian' is really getting overused - if you asked your grandparents if the world we live in now is better or 'dystopian' which do you think they'll pick?) or, actually, a world gone... blank as the citizens are forced to take a drug called Prozium - I liked that. Sounds like a combination of prozac and lithium. Whatever it is, a daily dose of it makes one an unemotional automaton. Which is what the 'leaders' want - a society of people who don't feel. People who don't feel don't make trouble, right? Ah geez, it's Obamacare isn't it? Just kidding. Sort of.

Well of course there are those who reject that kind of governmental control of their lives. Those people are labelled as 'sense offenders' and are, as a whole, rounded up, judged and sentenced to 'combustion' (nice way to put burn at the stake - or in this case a chamber). And Preston and his partner Errol Partridge (the doomed Sean Bean) are Grammaton clerics which means they kick ass for the Lord (to borrow a phrase from a movie that was a lot more fun) - this part is a little shaky since they're trying to set up this complicated system of enforcement/religion for the future. All are ruled by 'Father' a face on a screen everyone knows but no one has seen in person. Uh huh.

All this has come about after a third world war in the 21st century (uh oh) caused such devastation that they devised this system to keep the whole population in check. By force, natch. This force is done blankly by Preston who can wipe out a whole room full of bad guys by himself in total darkness. Yippee-ki-yay, motherf... oops sorry, different film. John McClane actually HAD some character. This emotionless wiping out people who've rebelled and dared to feel emotion is really stupid considering what they were striving for was an end to war and... people wiping each other out. A BIG duh in the plot line. Don't feel and you won't kill. Feel and we'll kill YOU. Oh yeah, that makes a ton of sense.

You can tell that from the start there's something... more human with Partridge. He actually looks nervous before they infiltrate a den of naughty people doing the nasty - in this case gathering paintings, books, things that supposedly make people FEEL. There's really no surprise when he sneaks a book of poems away from one raid.

The city this takes place in is called Libria which I guess is a fancy way of saying it's a city of liberated people since they don't have to 'suffer' from pain or happiness or any other feeling - and they're systematically burning all the remains of the past in order to keep it that way. I know some doctors who'd like to keep their patients that way. If I told you the ton of medications they used to have me on... but I won't. It was a perk of having insurance (which I don't anymore) and although I've been having to get along with a fraction of what I really need, I also have been able to function a little better - I'm not happy and I'm in pain but I'm writing and that's a pretty big improvement over lying each day staring at the wall.

Ahem. Back to the movie. So Partridge took a book of poems so we know he's doomed because of it (and the fact that he's Sean Bean). That's a violation of the law - no one is allowed anything rated an EC-10 (Emotional content, uh, ten times?). And it's no surprise that this future, emotions wiped and guards with machine guns at the ready to kill anyone who steps out of line that their 'symbol' looks uncomfortably like a swastika. That was... not subtle. Eighteen minutes into the movie, Preston kills Partridge by shooting him in the face through a book of poems. That was right after he declared there was 'no more war, no more murder.' Yeah, except for the times you get shot in the face through a book.

And so now Preston has Brandt (Taye Diggs) as a partner. And Brandt wants Preston's position. Hmm, no emotions should mean no ambition right? So how would Brandt covet anything? Is his Prozium a little off? Or is it that humans are becoming so used to it that their human selves are peeking through? Dum dum DUM. But mostly dumb.

After arresting a woman who Preston starts to empathize with because, I guess, his wife was arrested and executed for not taking her Prozium and HE accidentally broke a dose and subsequently began hiding further doses instead of taking them, he starts getting more conflicted (but with Bale it's kind of hard to tell - his face has like three expressions max) especially when trying to hide his changing personality from his kids who are bound by law to turn him in if they know.

Preston himself begins to go to a restricted area, the same place his partner used to sneak off to. Dogs are illegal (too much emotional baggage - weird they didn't talk about cats) so when Preston finds a puppy he hides it in his trunk but is caught and so now executes some of his fellow law enforcers. For a dog.

Aaaaand here we go. This is the setting for the rest of the movie. Preston hides stuff and people, and kills his own to keep it that way. Wow, what a powerful lesson for the kiddies. Human life means nothing compared to dogs, paintings and books. Not that I approve of getting rid of the latter of course, I just mean he's trading things for lives. Duh. Oh and while we're on the subject of duh - these 'clerics' are supposed to be the fighting elite - not just with weapons, but hand to hand combat. Exactly how does one do that in an tight coat that goes down below your knees? Tight outfit, tight coat - not the ideal fighting apparel.

Brandt is a young buck who, like I said, wants Preston's position so he's been spying on him and tattles on him to the rest of the clerics when he refuses to gun down a bunch of, uh, freedom fighters I guess you'd call them. But the movie's action just... stops. I guess we need to watch Preston begin to 'feel' as the Prozium leaves his body. Maybe that's why this movie is 107 minutes long - I can think of about 20 minutes that could have been cut easily. I learned a new word though - here's your smarty pants lesson of the day: Nepenthe - a medicine for sorrow, literally an anti-depressant – a 'drug of forgetfulness'. I thought that was called 'alcohol'.

So the natural progression goes that Preston now must help the underground. And like I said the movie kind of grinds to a halt. Watching him 'feel' more and more as he finds the undergroun
d fighters, tries to hide his emotions from his children (they can have him killed too - oh joy) and especially his gung-ho partner begins to wear on him. When a woman he comes to like (even though he arrested her) is executed, he loses it - and is promptly arrested by Brandt and dragged before the leader of the clerics. But Preston is still smart even if he's 'feeling' all those horrible emotions humans have and switched guns with Brandt so it makes it look like Brandt is the one who is the traitor. Duh.

But it's all a setup for a switcheroo and Brandt gets the upper hand as Preston is arrested (again) and a machine tells the 'Father' that he has emotions. That's when it's revealed there is no 'Father' and that the head of the clerics has been lying to everyone to keep them... under control. The machine is reacting wildly to Preston's emotions until it flatlines - the attendant knows what that means. Sure enough, guns come out and Preston is wiping out an entire room of heavily armed men by himself. Uh huh.

Then, somehow, he gets through all the guards (and gets bloody somehow) and wipes out all the screens that are constantly running through the city to remind people why they're being drugged - that sets off the bombs set in the Prozium dispensaries as Preston stares and give one of the three expressions he has - a slight smile.