The other night, Alicia and I watched Equilibrium, a Big Brother-themed movie starring Christian Bale.
In the dystopia pictured, all emotions are outlawed, and everyone is required to take a daily dose of a drug that suppresses emotion. Christian Bale is an enforcement officer of the Tetragrammaton, the agency that controls everything under the guidance of Father (Big Brother). At some point, he misses a dose of the drug and begins to feel emotions that cause him to question his job and the laws imposed by the Tetragrammaton. He feels sorrow and regret over the execution of his wife, who had violated the emotion law. Thereafter he hides the drugs behind his mirror instead of taking them.
He’s tasked with infiltrating the Underground resistance and bringing them to justice, but becomes a double agent, assisting the Underground in preparing an uprising and positioning himself to have access to Father so he can assassinate him.
Now here’s the stupid part: his partner (Kaye Diggs) becomes suspicious and eventually arrests him when he’s on his knees in an obvious display of emotion. But during the arrest, Diggs is gleeful, capering around, grimacing, smiling, gloating… not the behavior you would expect from someone who is emotion-free.
When they come before the Tetragrammaton, Bale turns the tables on him and reports Diggs as the high-level infiltrator that they have been looking for. Diggs is led away to be executed, only to turn up again later because he is actually on special assignment from Father to catch Bale and the Underground. But nowhere is his emotion addressed; nowhere do they say, “Well, actually we high-level guys are allowed to skip the drugs.” It’s just bad writing, bad acting, or bad directing.
There is of course a very satisfying sequence at the end in which Bale takes on several dozen guards and the Tetragrammaton and eventually Diggs and Father himself. It’s campy action, much like Kill Bill. My favorite part is the katana duel with Diggs: Bale makes a few quick slashes, Diggs stands there, falls to his knees, and turns his head to the right. His face then slides off, having been cut so cleanly you couldn’t even tell! I wonder why it didn’t fall off when he dropped to his knees.
You can see that scene here:
In summary, the movie is perhaps not as bad as The Colony (see my review here). But people who expect things to make sense will find it disappointing.