Cleric John Preston (Christian Bale) is a top government agent responsible for enforcing the law that bans emotion in the futuristic state of Libria. This is a world at peace, where war is a distant memory, and so is music, art and poetry. Here, emotion is illegal and is punishable by death. But when Preston is forced to kill one of his fellow agents he begins, however, to question the system and decides to fight against these cruel new laws.
A broad science fiction thriller in a classic vein, Equilibrium takes a respectable stab at a Fahrenheit 451-like cautionary fable. The story finds Earth's post-World War III humankind in a state of severe emotional repression; if no-one feels anything, no-one will be inspired by dark passions to attack their neighbours. Writer-director Kurt Wimmer's monochromatic, Metropolis-influenced cityscape provides an excellent backdrop to the heavy-handed mission of John Preston (Christian Bale), a top cop who busts "sense offenders" and crushes sentimental, sensual, and artistic relics from a bygone era. Predictably, Preston becomes intrigued by his victims and that which they die to cherish; he stops taking his mandatory, mood-flattening drug and is even aroused by a doomed prisoner (Emily Watson). Wimmer's wrongheaded martial arts/duelling guns motif is sheer silliness (a battle over a puppy doesn't help), but Equilibrium should be seen for Bale's moving performance as a man shocked back to human feeling. --Tom Keogh
--This text refers to the DVD edition.