Of Plot Holes and Oversights…

Hello again. Today I thought I’d break with the norm and do another “best of” post. Thing is, this time around I didn’t want to do one dedicated to “best lines” or anything like that. No, today I thought I’d tackle some of the worst moments in movie history. And if there’s one thing I’ve noticed plenty of in my collection of bad reviews, it’s plot holes! Those rare moments that make you stop and say “Uh… what?” Or the kind that make you want to reach out, grab the director by the ears and say “That makes no f@!%@%$ sense! What the hell were you thinking?” Not literally, of course. That’d be creepy, Kathy Bates in Misery creepy.

So, with that in mind, and inspired by all the moments that have made me – and I’m sure others – want to pull out my hair, here’s a list of some of the worst plot holes and oversights I have ever seen. Yep, its a veritable “best of the worst”! And who knows? This might just become a regular thing. There’s certainly no shortage of material. And on the chopping block for today: Independence Day, Terminator: Salvation!, and Equilibrium!

Independence Day:
As far as plots go, this movie was a doozy. In fact, it was lot more enjoyable if you checked your brain at the door and didn’t ask too many questions. But, inevitably, at some point you had to pick your brain up, reinstall it, and deal with all the logical inconsistencies it was sure to raise. Here were the one’s that came to my mind:

The Signal: Remember how Jeff Goldblum, a cable man, picked up on that alien signal, the binary code that was being transmitted using Earth’s satellites? Remember how NO ONE ELSE noticed the same thing? That’s right, the guy who installs your HBO noticed something that all the cryptologist and covert brains at the CIA, NSA, and NASA did not. But of course, Director/Writer Roland Emmerich had that one covered. Apparently, the signal was “subtle!”

Backdraft: This is a minor point, but it was still insulting! During the aliens’ assault on LA, Vivica A Fox, her son, and their dog Boomer were all trapped in a freeway tunnel. Whereas most people were consumed by the fire, they survived by hiding in a workman’s shed. Only problem with this is, the fireball went right by the open doorway and left them untouched. Funny, I always thought fire expanded to fill empty spaces. Forgot about the shed exception!

Small World: Remember how Will Smith managed to fly a commandeered helicopter into LA after the aliens leveled it to retrieve Vivica A Fox and her son? Yeah, how did he find them exactly? And what the hell happened to all those alien ships that were shooting down anything that flew? More importantly, how did Vivica A Fox manage to find the First Lady and the downed White House helicopter? Come to think of it, this movie was full of these kind of unlikely reunions! Why, for example, did Will Smith decide to wander to Area 51, hundreds of miles away from his airbase and where he got shot down? Was it just because the president and several other main characters happened to be there? And how is it that the big caravan of mobile homes, with Quaid and his family in it, manage to meet up with him in the middle of the desert? How small is LA? Or the Nevada Desert for that matter?

The Plan: Remember how Goldblum came up with the big world-saving plan towards the end? The one that involved planting a computer virus in the mother ship, yadda yadda yadda… Yeah, how did he manage to figure out how to crack the alien’s technology? We’re talking about a race with vastly superior technology. So not only was a cable man able to detect an alien signal that the best minds at NASA, the CIA and NSA could not, he was also the only one who could figure out how to bring them down. Oh yeah, and how does Will Smith know how to fly an alien ship? He saw one in combat… I’ve seen fighter jets in combat, does that mean I can fly one of those? I’d like to think so! Emmerich raised the holes in this one too, but he dismissed them by putting them in the mouth of a douche bag character who we weren’t likely to listen to! Seriously, by the time he was done bitching about the logical inconsistencies of this plan, we were ALL hoping he’d be fired. And then he was… yay!

The Mother Ships: Remember those big alien ships that had shields that could withstand nukes? Remember how when they went down, the US airforce started ripping one to shit with their missiles? Same with the alien fighters, they blew right up when hit with mere bullets. Seems odd… you’d think solid metal hulls that are capable of withstanding the intense pressure and heat of space flight and atmospheric entry would be able to withstand bullets and air to air missiles. Granted they DID say they weren’t doing ENOUGH damage, but the fact that they were doing much at all was a bit of a surprise. But that wasn’t nearly as odd as the stunt Randy Quaid pulled. Remember how the big alien ships had those big alien ray guns, the ones that could level entire cities? Yeah, turns out that if you fly a single jet into the barrel of one, the entire ship will explode… How the hell does that work?! Does putting your finger in the barrel of a gun make the gun explode? No, it makes your finger explode as the bullet rips through it and anything else in the way! And this was with a freaking city-leveling laser! In short, Randy Quaid’s plane should have exploded harmlessly beneath the gun, not blown the whole ship up! But that would have been way less heroic… Funnier, but less heroic.

Man that was a stupid movie! Fun, but stupid!

Terminator: Salvation:
Here was a movie that started off good but got real messed up towards the end! Yep, as soon as they dropped the hammer and revealed everything, you got to see how little sense this sequel really made. I tell ya, it had so many holes, you’d think a Terminator took a gatling gun to it!

The List: So the machines made a hit list in this movie with Kyle Reese’s name at the top and Conner’s not far behind, right? And they also created a man-machine hybrid in the form of Marcus, right? And their plot all along was to have him help them kill Reese and Conner so they would win the war, right? Right! So… why the hell didn’t he just kill them? What was the point of delivering Reese and Conner into their lair if the goal was to kill them all along? That’s like the long-movie equivalent of a villain putting James Bond into some complicated death machine instead of just shooting him! It’s like, if you want him dead, why put him in a situation he can actually get out of? You’re life not challenging enough as it is? Especially with Reese, Marcus had him at gunpoint twice within the first thirty minutes! First time when he stole his shotgun, second time when he was showing him how to hold said shotgun. Boom! Movie’s done! But instead, we get a big convoluted plot where they end up being captured, apparently thanks to Marcus, when it seemed like all he was doing from the beginning was try to help them!

“That was our plan all along!”: Marcus spent the first portion of the movie wandering from the desert to the ruins of LA. There, he met (totally by coincidence) Kyle Reese. Reese and his little friend were captured IN SPITE of Marcus’ efforts to protect them, not because of them. Marcus then found John Conner (again, purely by coincidence), and convinced him to let him go to Skynet’s base so he could save them. John then went to that base to save Reese as well because the resistance was planning on attacking it. So really… how was Skynet orchestrating all this from the beginning? Seems to me that everything that happened up until this point was well beyond its control. Contrived? Hell yes! But saying that this all be part of some master plan doesn’t make it any less so. If anything, it’s just a weak-ass attempt at justifying these contrivances by tying them all together.

The Future: How did Skynet know that Conner would somehow come to defeat it? How did it know that Reese was his father? Finally, how his did it know that it had failed repeatedly to “get John Conner” in the past? The only way Skynet could have known how the future would work out is if someone told it, just like how Conner knew about the future because his mother told him (and she was told by Kyle Reese). In short, someone who has actually been there needs to come back and tell you. And that bits ruled out by the fact that all three Terminators that came from the future were destroyed. So really, how does Skynet know a thing about this whole temporal thing? It got a crystal ball, some kind of device that can see the future? Nuh-uh!

Chip in the neck: If Skynet wanted to control Marcus, which apparently they were doing all along (though he didn’t know it and it really didn’t seem like they were), why do it through a chip he could easily remove? Why put the damn chip in his neck? Why not his brain? Just like with the whole delivering Reese and Conner to them, this seemed like an easily fixable situation. Rip, rip! Problem solved! Remember how Skynet said to Marcus, “You cannot save John Conner”? Well… yeah, actually he could! And thanks to Skynet’s stupid, convoluted planning, that was exactly what he did!

The Machine HQ: Did you notice how at the end of the movie, the Resistance people just show up and pull Conner, Reese and Marcus out of the base? Didn’t that seem remarkably easy? What about those gun towers and other defenses we just saw? What happened to those? Were they just for show? And if it was this easy, why couldn’t they have done it way back when and shaved a couple years off the war?

Temporal Paradox thingy: We know from the first and second movie that Conner exists because Reese went back in time and had sex his mother. We also know that he didn’t go back in time until after they broke into the machine HQ, presumably in 2029, destroyed Skynet and discovered the time machine. But in this alternate future, where Judgement Day happened later and the Resistance destroyed Skynet sooner (2018), there was no time travel to speak of. Sure they shamelessly and senselessly said that the war was still on because Skynet’s “global network” was still out there, but if Skynet is gone before it built its time machine, wouldn’t that mean that no time travel ever took place, and John Conner therefore wouldn’t exist? Think about it! Conner exists because Reese had sex with his mom, but if Skynet was destroyed 11 years before he was supposed to go back in time, then it would never have built the time machine, Reese would never have gone back, and Sarah Conner would never have gotten pregnant with him. Come to think of it, the same holds true of the Terminators and even Judgement Day! No time machine, no Terminators going back, no basis for Skynet’s creation… Whoa! I just went cross-eyed!

Wow, that’s a lot of holes. Am I being too harsh? I mean, I wanted to like this movie. Really, I did! But it made it just so damned hard!

Equilibrium:
Worst for last! This movie had holes so big a truck could pass through them! Seriously, by the end, you were taking stock of them all and realizing that they essentially rendered the entire premise moot. Where to begin…

Cleric Extraordinaire: So the movie starts with us being told that Bale’s character is like the prodigal son of Grammaton Clerics (not too subtle reference to the movie’s religious tone here!). Way he puts it, he’s always been able to get inside “sense offenders” (sex offenders!) heads and know how they think. And yet, this guy not only failed to notice his wife was an offender, but his children too! Turns out, she was loving him in secret for years, and the kids stopped taking their Prozium after she was hauled off to be incinerated. So really, that means he was living in a house full of offenders for years and didn’t even notice! If he’s the best they got its little wonder why they lost to the Underground!

“Don’t lie to me!”: There are countless examples of people who are supposed to be emotionless showing emotion in this movie. Taye Diggs does much of that with his constant smiling, but by far the worst was Angus MacFadyen’s huge outburst. Seriously, how did Bale’s character not notice that? I know, truth was he was never taking his Prozium, but that’s not supposed to be common knowledge. You’d think he’d be a bit more subtle than to slam his fist down on a table and yell at someone. Especially a man who is specially trained to seek out and kill the kinds of people who do that. But then again, this is the same guy who didn’t notice that his wife and kids were offenders, and they were doing it for years. Yeah, he’s safe!

Gun Switch: Ah, yes! The scene where Bale switches guns with Diggs, and then frames him for the murder he already committed by using his gun to do it. Wait, what? Yeah, that’s how it played out in the movie. Bale framed Diggs for the murder of several officers of the state by (apparently) using his gun to do it. Problem is, he didn’t swap guns with him until AFTER the event. Only way this would make sense was if he already switched them, committed the murders, and was just giving him his own weapon back at this point. That would have worked just fine. All that would be needed is an added scene or a flashback showing Bale how stole his gun beforehand. The other way, the way it happened in the movie, makes no damned sense! Sloppy stuff like that makes the audience think someone in the editing booth was either asleep at the wheel or high! Maybe they had the right idea!

“We planned this”: By the end, Bale is about to meet “The Father”, but realizes he’s been had. Turns out, his nemesis Diggs is alive, his whole mission to find the Underground was a ruse, and he himself was selected because apparently they thought he was a latent sense offender and just hadn’t realized it yet. Uh… how did they know this exactly? I mean yes, he did BECOME a sense offender, but that was the result of an accident! He somehow forgot to stock up on Prozium, broke his last vial, and the damn pharmacy was closed! That’s how it all began, the result of an unlikely, totally implausible accident. So really, how could they have foreseen this and planned it all out? Man, its just like what Terminator: Salvation did, except Wimmer did it sooner! Note to all writers and directors out there, DON’T IMITATE KURT WIMMER! I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but his movies aren’t exactly getting nominated for most original screenplay!

“I Feel!”: By the very end, we learn that MacFadyen, the true leader of Libria, is himself a sense offender. Makes sense in a “we ripped off” 1984 kind of way, the leaders are hypocrites who don’t follow their own rules. But really, this means that the head of this dystopian state has been breaking the rules all along and no one seemed to have noticed. Either that or all his colleagues in government were doing the same, how else could he have gotten away with it? With all the Clerics, informants and surveillance devices they have out there monitoring for offenders, wouldn’t it have been really easy to spot a public figure exhibiting emotion? Am I over-thinking the bit? Probably. At this point, the movie is over anyway so who the hell cares?

Man that was a stupid movie. No, no addendums to that statement – like it was still fun, so long as you checked your brain at the door. It was just a stupid, stupid movie!

Well, that’s all for now. I could go on, but I’m already in a bad mood just thinking about all these plot f$@*-ups! Quite frankly, I’d like to get back to reviewing books or movies that I actually enjoyed. And seeing as how I finally got my hands on a copy of Idoru, I think I’ll do just that. Stay tuned!

Equilibrium

Equilibrium

And we’re back! I tell ya, I’m mentally burnt from reviewing so many classics that I actually enjoyed! But I guess that’s to be expected. Somehow, its just easier to burn and mock bad movies, as opposed to dissecting and delving into movies with real themes, plots, memorable characters and complex messages. And I have covered a few movies in the last while that I had mostly good things to say about. So its about time I got back to bashing something worthy of it! Yeah, that seems about right. Here’s Equilibrium!

Now I already know that I’m stepping on some toes just by implying that this movie was fluff. As it turns out, Equilibrium is a cult-classic with its own dedicated fansite. That’s right, people actually came together and created a website strictly for fans of this 1984-ripoff. Go check it out, its actually pretty respectable: Equilibrium Fans

That shouldn’t come as a big surprise, people love an underdog after all! And considering the bashing it took and how little money it made, its little wonder why its fans would be so dedicated…

(Background—>)
Yes, as already noted, this movie did very poorly at the box office, grossing just over five million dollars, which was roughly a quarter of the movie’s budget. And it was generally panned by critics, earning only 37 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a metascore of only 33 out of 100 on Metacritic. Little surprise. The general consensus amongst critics was that the movie was a rip-off, a “reheated mishmash of other sci-fi movies” as one review put it. Or, as the NY Times claimed, that it borrowed heavily from such classics as Fahrenheit 451, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Brave New World, and other science-fiction classics. Roger Ebert was the only one to be gentle, giving the film 3 out of 4 stars and saying that “Equilibrium would be a mindless action picture, except that it has a mind. It doesn’t do a lot of deep thinking, but unlike many futuristic combos of sf and f/x, it does make a statement”.

On the other hand, the movie did manage to attract a cult following that saw all this “borrowing” as signs of quality, who enjoyed the combination of action and sci-fi/satirical elements. But regardless of whether it was seen as a weakness or a sign of quality, the fact remains: Equilibrium borrowed HEAVILY from many sci-fi classics, particularly 1984, and tried to repackage them into an action movie riddled with plot holes, contrivances and topped off with a happy ending. You either loved it or hated it, and I personally thought it was pretty damn funny!

(Content—>)
So the movie opens with scenes of destruction and debacle, telling us that humanity was brought to the brink of annihilation by what was clearly WWIII. In response, a new order was formed, this one dedicated to creating a perfect society through the eradication of human emotion. Hmm, interesting spin on the 1984 concept (not to mention F451 and Brave New World!) So apparently, the civilized people live in a walled city called Libria (obvious reference to the movies title and their value system), the rest live in the “Nethers” where emotion is still practiced. The people of Libria take a drug named Prozium which “eliminates the highs and lows” of emotion (thinking they just mashed the words Prozac and Valium together) and the law is enforced by people called “Grammaton Clerics” who go out and arrest “sense offenders”. Oh, and the religious/political leader of this world is known as the “Father”. He’s the guy who founded the Librian philosophy and leads the state through the “Tetragrammaton Council”, even thought no one sees him except on big huge TV screens making his famous speeches.

Okay, first impressions… Obvious! For one, we have some clear satire on the culture of pharmaceuticals, the pills people pop when they are manic or depressed. Except here, you pop one to cure it all! Echoes of Soma, hello Brave New World! Then we have the Grammaton Clerics who go out and arrest “sense offenders”… They ARE the Thought Police, “sense offense” IS thought crime, and the way they burn the people’s houses and possessions out in the Nethers is every bit what happens in F451. Oh yeah, and the Father is totally Big Brother, and its already pretty clear he doesn’t even exist! And the religious angle is also very clear. The name Tetragrammaton for example, which is Greek for “a word having four letters, is clearly a reference to the Hebrew name of the God of Israel (YHWH). And the Grammaton Clerics, need I say more? Essentially, what they are trying to say is that the philosophy of unemotion has been elevated to the status of holy canon, making it unquestionable and the state’s authority total.

But the action is still pretty cool. For example, in the opening sequence after the intro, we see John Preston (Christian Bale) – cleric extraordinaire – go into a Nether compound. There, he shoots up an entire room of people after jump-kicking the door down and sliding into a room full of gunmen. Seems this is an example of what’s called the “Gun Kata” (or as some people called it “Gun Fu”), where clerics get into the middle of a crowd of hostiles and do a gun dance, inflicting maximum damage on the maximum amount of targets. After clearing this place out, they uncover a cache of art (sense offense materials) and burn them. We also see his partner, Errol Partridge (Sean Bean), steals a book from the scene by WB Yeats and claims he’s turning it in to be destroyed. But you totally know he isn’t! The man is clearly a “sense offender” (dammit, that sounds like sex offender when you say it fast!). Preston quickly realizes this and meets up with him in an abandoned church in the Nethers. There, they have a chat about why he’s chosen to break the law, forsake his career, and condemn himself to death. Bean claims that the price of emotion is a “cost I would pay gladly”. Not sure where that quote is from. Closest thing I could find was “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today” by Wimpy, the hamburger addict from Popeye.

Then, in a move that isn’t totally contrived, Preston accidentally breaks his last vial of Prozium and the clinic is closed so he can’t restock. That’s right, an elite cleric lets his stock of mind-altering drugs run out and the factory just happened to be closed so… yeah, he’s screwed until they open again! Then, wouldn’t you know it, he begins to experience emotions and finds the awakening quite appealing (and disturbing because he now feels remorse for killing his ex-partner!) Alas, he has to hide his emotions now because he gets a new partner, some career-minded dude named Brandt who is clearly gunning for the spot of top cleric. Preston’s kids, like something out of children of the corn, are also pretty suspicious (echoes of the Spies from ’84), so he has to be careful at home as well. Only place that’s totally private and safe is the few inches that lay inside his head (’84!)

Oh yeah, we also learn a few things in the course of this that also make little sense. One, Preston had a wife that was arrested and incinerated because SHE was a sense offender. When he meets with Dupont (Angus MacFadyen), the head of the Council under the Father, he is asked how this could have happened. How does an elite cleric, best in the business, NOT notice sense offense in his own home? He replies that he himself has never been able to figure that out. Well, that makes all of us! That and the death of his partner clearly tell us that he’s going rogue real soon! Oh yeah, we also learn that there’s an Underground apparently that operates within Libria. But unlike in 1984, this resistance ACTUALLY exists and literally lives underground. Its now Preston’s job, with his new partner, to find this group and eliminate them.

They then do a mission together where they find a new batch of people in the Nethers, one of them the enigmatic Mary O’Brien (Emily Watson) who has a cache of classical music and antiques. After saving her life, Preston goes through her stuff and has a deep, emotional moment as he listens to some Mozart. This is right out of ’84 again, where Winston found an antique shop in London and was totally enamored by everything he saw in the place. Preston than commits the same act that Partridge did in the beginning, pocketing a book and claiming he was going to get rid of it himself. He then rescues a dog because (holy evil Batman!) dogs are illegal and are have to be put down. He tries to let the dog loose at the edge of town, but that ends badly when a bunch of police show up and he’s forced to kill them using some of funky, acrobatic, Gun Kata moves! Also, in the course of interrogating O’Brien, he finds himself falling in love with her. We learn in the course of things that this lovely red-headed “sense offender” knew Partridge and led him down the path of sense offense in the first place. She’s slated to die now, and he’s obviously not too happy about it.

Shortly thereafter, Dupont summons him again to talk to him about his suspicious behavior. Convinced that Preston is not telling him the truth, he slams his fist down on the table and yells “DON’T LIE TO ME!” Uh, hello? Isn’t emotion supposed to not exist for these people? And this is just the first instance of this kind of plot oversight. Afterward, while practicing what appears to be truncheon Kata, Brandt comes in and starts fighting with Preston and he lets a lot of emotions fly. For one, he keeps smiling! Second, he taunts him by telling him that since some cops turned up dead (his work), there’s going to be a big offensive in the Nethers and all sense offenders will be wiped out on site. No more arrests are processing! Last, he seems disappointed when he looses their match. And these people are suspicious of HIM? No wonder he never suspected his wife, the man’s been surrounded by sense offenders all this time and he can’t even tell! (Still sounds like sex offenders to me!)

So he rides along on one such assault, sees lots of people die and feels bad about it. Then he tries to rescue some hideaways, but Brandt finds him and orders him to kill them. He even hands him his gun to do it. He says “no, you do it”, and hands him his gun back. As if Brandt’s suspicions weren’t already confirmed, he then catches him as he runs out of the “processing center” (where O’Brien has just been incinerated) where he breaks down and start to cry right there in the street. Arrested, Preston has his ass dragged before Dupont (again!) where Brandt tells on him and says that he’s the one who shot those officers. Strangely, Preston doesn’t seem too afraid because, you see, forensics can match bullets to a specific gun. Turns out, the gun used to kill those officers was Brandt’s! We then get a quick flashback to where Preston was handing Brandt back his gun while they were together in the Nethers. Brandt is then hauled off, claiming (screaming, in fact) that he has no feelings. Okay, two things here: One, that whole gun switcheroo happened AFTER he killed those cops. How could he have shot them with Brandt’s gun if he didn’t even have his hands on it yet? This is a major plothole! How could it have gone unnoticed?! Second, Brandt once again is blatantly demonstrating emotion. How is no one noticing this?

Regardless, Preston now seems to have gained Dupont’s trust, so he’s sent on a special mission to infiltrate the Underground. Seems right up his alley, since he’s already decided to become an offender himself. But before that can happen, he must rush home and get rid of the cache of Prozium that he hasn’t been taking. He gets home and rips off the bathroom mirror (he’s been hiding them inside the wall) and is confronted by his son who tells him he needs to do a better job of stashing his vials. His son then smiles! Turns out, his kids are sense offenders too, have been ever since their mother was incinerated! How sweet… Whoa, hang on here! You’re telling me that this guy’s KIDS have been offenders for years now and HE NEVER NOTICED?! What kind of cleric is this guy? First his wife, then his kids, then his partner??? Didn’t he say near the beginning that the key to his success as a cleric was being able to get inside the head of sense offenders? How can he be suspected of being a sense offender when he’s the only one in Libria who HASN’T been sense offending this whole time?

After this close shave, he goes to the Underground and begins plotting with them. Seems they have a plan: they will stage their surrender, Preston will get the credit for the arrest and, as a reward, a chance to meet the Father. He will assassinate him while their people attack the Prozium factory. With the shipments shut down, the people will experience emotions again and rise up against the system. Ah, but there’s a snag! Turns out, as he gets there, that the Tetrarchy have other plans. They sit him down, hook him to a polygraph, and then reveal that he’s been had! Brandt is alive, it seems, and it was all a set-up! And then a video of the Father, which suddenly turns into Dupont, comes on to address him lets him in on the double-cross. The Father (like we didn’t already know) has been dead for years and Dupont has been the real head of state since that time. Oh, and that whole thing of sending him to find the Underground? Part of the set-up! You see, they could tell he was a potential offender, and figured they could use him to locate the resistance and get their hands on them. Letting him beat Brandt was just a ruse so he would feel comfortable and able to fulfill his purpose.

Yeah, this isn’t totally contrived either! According to Dupont, they were looking for an infiltrator to get into the Underground, someone who could think and feel like they did, but who wasn’t aware of it yet. Now how the hell is that supposed to work? This guy couldn’t even spot his own wife and children, and he’s supposed to be an elite cleric AND a latent sense offender? Second of all… what are they, psychic? If he was the perfect candidate for knowing how sense offenders worked, why screw him over? Last, but certainly not least, the only reason he started offending was an unlikely accident! Remember, he broke his last vial and the Prozium factory was closed? Or did they set that up too? Once again, we have a climax where the bad guys somehow foresaw everything, how everything proceeded based on their designs, even though there’s no way they could have planned this without being psychic. Whatever, it’s not supposed to make sense, it’s just supposed to tie everything up into a nice little package!

In any case, Dupont tells him to surrender without incident, but Preston isn’t about to! His polygraph levels go flat, he breaks out the sleeve-guns, and starts blowing everyone away! Yeah, this is another pretty cool action scene, but that doesn’t prevent it from being totally stupid too! I mean, how did he get those guns past the guards? Also, he makes such short work of them that the fight isn’t even suspenseful. A few bullets, a few cuts with his Katana, and everyone’s dead. His ultra-fast fight with Brandt is especially bad; not once did their swords even cross! It was just, swipe, swipe, swipe, and Brandt’s face falls off! No joke! He then takes down Dupont in a Gun Kata fight, but not before Dupont begs for his life, confessing that he himself is a sense offender (he “feels” he says). But Preston kills him anyway, quoting that killing him is “a cost I would gladly pay”. So even Dupont is a sense offender, huh? No surprises there, he’s done enough emoting to put William Shatner to shame! But I guess this was meant to be in keeping with the whole 1984 motif, where the rulers are total hypocrites who don’t follow their own rules.

Anyway, the Underground then attacks the Prozium factory, killing all the guards with ridiculous ease, and then proceeds to blow the place up. The movie then ends with a closeup of Preston’s eye as he sheds a single tear. And that’s not the only piece of blatant symbolism before the movie ends. There’s also the part where Preston wipes his bloody fingers on one of the TV’s boasting the Father’s image, right before he blows this and every other screen in the building away (somehow, this shuts down every screen in the city). So between that and the destruction of the Prozium factory, the system is now in ruins and the people of Libria free to feel. Yaaaay, the sense offenders won! (STILL sounds like sex offenders!)

(Synopsis—>)
I think I better start with what I actually liked about this movie since that is a much shorter list. Yes, some of the action scenes were cool, but Kurt Wimmer (who wrote AND directed this movie) has a thing for action sequences where people die way too quickly. Again and again, we see people sprayed with bullets, tons of dust flying, and dozens of people dropping in the same second. The scene at the end where the Underground is storming the government buildings is the worst of the lot, entire squads of guards drop in seconds as untrained resistance fighters shoot at them. What kind of guards are these? Whoops, supposed to be covering the good stuff here… Okay, the classic sci-fi bits were also cool at times – like how people in the Nethers stockpile whatever emotional materials they can (art, literature, music), and how the clerics are required by law to confiscate and burn them. But here too, things get unbelievably hokey! At the beginning, for example, it turns out that the rogue house was keeping priceless pieces of objets d’art hidden in the floor, which included the (REAL) Mona Lisa! Are you kidding me?

Damn it, did it again! Okay, uh… the shooting locations, which included the Olympic Stadium in Berlin and the subway station under the Reichstag building. Yeah, the way they worked their sets into these locations, that was pretty cool. And the direction wasn’t bad. The camera work, casting and acting weren’t bad either… except for Taye Diggs, who smiles way too much (you’re supposed to be emotionless, dude!) The Gun Kata was neat, and the whole “sense offender” rating system (EC-10, which has to do with the MPAA’s emotional content rating system) was kind of clever as well. Last, there was the clerical/religious angle, which was kind of cool and ironic since the state is supposed to be a society of pure reason, free of emotion, and these terms can’t help but make one think of faith – something inherently irrational.

But other than THAT, this movie sucked! The plot was totally contrived, it was riddled with plot holes, some of them glaring (i.e. the gun switch), and the ending was so totally over the top it was ridiculous! Sure, some of us were encouraged that the good guys won, unlike in the real 1984, but that didn’t make it any more believable or respectable. In fact, it really just felt like Wimmer ripped off some respectable sci-fi classics, splashed them together with a cheesy action plot and called it a movie. I’m reminded of Demolition Man, and the less said about his other flop, Ultraviolet, the better! Uh oh, I’m sensing more bad reviews to come… Equilibrium, folks! Not bad if you’re looking for a guilty pleasure, check your brain at the door!

Equilibrium:
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Plot: 3/10
Direction: 6/10
Total: 5.5/10