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ExpDelTop100 #25 - Equilibrium

Here's another headscratcher for most of ya'll, and it's one of the films I feel I'm a big cheerleader for it. Seriously, I find many excuses to recommend this film, and I cannot do so highly enough.

Actually, where I find the best reason to bring up the film is when Im asked about my favorite fight scenes or my favorite action sequences. But we'll get into that in a minute. I feel I should give a basic explanation of the film first.

The short version is that it's Farenheit 451, times ten (Farenheit 4510?). Starring Christian Bale and Taye Diggs, it's set in a futuristic dystopian society where human emotion is banned. Jigga wha? Yeah, the citizens are forced to take this medication called "Prozium" (IIIII see what they did there) that suppresses all emotion. The idea being that without the negative emotions (hate, anger, greed, etc) war would be eliminated. The price, of course, is ever experiencing any positive emotions (love, joy, and so on). Likewise, anything that can elicit emotions is also banned. They've established a policing unit of soldiers whose job it is to track down "sense offenders" (people who are off their meds) and destroy any contraband art and such. The irony of the whole thing being that in trying to eliminate the cause of war, they've brought on a civil war between the government and those resistant to their methods. Bale plays a Grammaton Cleric, John Preston (one of those solider dudes) who basically goes thru a Farenheit 451 storyline, where he goes off his meds but has to continue his job and is conflicted blah blah blah.

I'll get to the really good stuff in a minute, but this is truly a fantastic and skilled performance from Christian Bale. He starts off cold and stern, having never experienced any emotion. And then has to portray what it is to feel those for the first time, and just be overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude and beauty of it all. Towards the end, there's about two instances where he just smiles this tiny little smirk, and there's just so much behind it. It just floors me. This is why this boy is at the top of my fave actor list. Actually, I think I prolly would rank him at number two, just behind Edward Norton.

Maybe I was a bit off in my calculation of it being F451 times ten. It certainly needs a multiplier for the higher stakes in the story line, but it needs another for the action sequences. This movie has some of my absolute favorite fight scenes in any movie ever. There's two key elements to an awesome fight sequence that this movie nails:
-You need to have something different, a gimmick, if you will. Something that will make your action unique. For example, The Matrix introduced bullet time. It was revolutionary and awe inspiring. Any film that used it afterwards felt cheap because it was a copy, not an original idea. Equilibrium has this badass fight choreography through what they call the gun katas. Here's a clip that explains it, but basically its a series of positions and stances to take that maximize the damage you inflict and minimize the damage you receive. But, naturally, the film didnt actually do the math, they just found the hottest most \m/ bad ass poses for the soldiers to switch back and forth between.
-The other important element is a reason to suspend disbelief. Unless you're going for cheesey action (and there's nothing wrong with that if it's your intent), you kinda scoff and lose interest if your hero is defeating everyone without so much as a scratch or, God forbid, a misplaced hair on his head. It just doesnt feel real (really Bruce Willis, bring down a chopper with a police car?). But if you have an explanation for why he's so awesome, no matter how simple it may be, you can buy into it more. Going with The Matrix again, the world is a computer program that can be manipulated, therefore you can do the impossible. The gun katas accomplishes this as well. Bale's Preston is highly trained in a method that's designed to play into probability and statistics, so he really does stand a chance against those less skilled.

Okay, I've talked about the theory enough. Let's see some \m/ action, shall we? I'll resist the urge to post each and every action sequence, but here's my two favorites. When Im not racking my brain trying to think of better examples, I often refer to these as my absolute favorite action sequences, simply due to their originality.

Scene 1: This is in the opening sequence. Now, hear me out and read my entire explanation before you go judging it. I often get too excited and dive right in and lose people after the first couple words before they can understand. Preston is sent into a hideout to eradicate a group of rebels. He bursts into the room and all the lights are turned out. The entire scene takes place in the dark (this is where I usually get a sarcastic "well if it's in the dark, how's it any good", keep reading goddammit). You hear the insurgents whispering and then you hear the first gun shots. What you see is the flash of light from the gun, Christian Bale in some absolutely bad ass pose, and bodies just falling to the floor. And it keeps repeating with even better poses and more bodies. No explanation can do it justice, so just watch

Scene 2: For this scene, the love is mostly about the set up. Earlier in the film, the clerics came across an area where the resistance was hiding some puppies and other pets. The soliders killed most of them, but Preston comes up with some flimsy excuse to get one of the puppies out of there. He later tries to set the pooch free, but encounters some soldiers. So he does the logical thing. He takes them all out. In this sequence, you can really see the gun katas at work. But the most important thing as you watch this clip (fight starts around 1:55 if you wanna skip the lead in), remember, he's doing all that for a puppy!

There's some more amazing ones. Im tempted to post some of the sequences from the climax of the film (they can be YouTubed), but I think I should leave them out as incentive for you to go see this \m/ movie right the \m/ now.
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