Friday Fisticuffs: Equilibrium (2002)

equilibrium I first discovered Equilibrium while perusing my beloved Family Video. Since it came out in 2002, I must have checked it out while home for the summer from college and was drawn in by Taye Diggs and whoever that Christian Bale guy was wearing Matrix-like gear holding guns. It’s not like I had heard anything about it and dug around for it, it just appeared one day, looked interesting enough and I remember enjoying it, but never really got back to it.

When I saw it on Netflix Instant I was pretty excited, remembering that there was a fairly interesting sci-fi future as well as some interesting marital arts action that cleverly used firearms (called “gun katta” apparently). Said future was an incredibly structured one that keeps humanity emotionally muzzled by forcing them to take a suppressant drug. The governing body has a group of warriors called Clerics who make sure that no one’s feeling. Part of that job involves tracking down works of art and destroying them along with vagrants who live on the outskirts of society, struggling to survive, but feeling every minute of it.

Bale plays a Cleric who winds up skipping a dose and becoming that which he’s sworn to persecute: a sense offender. As he regains emotion and feelings, Bale’s character uses his position in the organization to try and make up for some of the things he’s done.

Much as I remember liking this movie and did enjoy it this time around, I’ve got to say, there are some pretty silly elements. If you’re a government organization whose sole focus is to keep the populace under a metaphorical emotional blindfold, why would you put that in their hands? Why wouldn’t the drugs be administered by way of water supply or provided food? That seemed like the kind of plot point that only exists to move the story along. The movie also gets a little slow at times, but I think that’s only because I went into this movie with an action flick mindset and it’s a lot more of an emotional journey than you might expect. If you’re looking for more and more fights and gun katta, then a slower talking scene can feel like it’s going on way too long.

But, the point of this post is to talk about fight scenes in movies. Sometimes I’ll watch an action movie, thinking it’d make for a great FF entry only to discover that most of the violence in the film involves gun play. That’s the case with Equilibrium, but it just so happens that the film combines those two elements in a lot of fun ways. The idea behind gun katta is that the guys can not only shoot really well, but also knows all the best physical positions to get their bodies in to do the most damage as quickly as possible. He can also use his guns as blunt weapons and do all kinds of cool flips, picking up weapons and using them in several different ways.

The problem with some of these fight scenes is that, sometimes, they look a little too set-design-y. There’s a good deal of Power Ranger-like posing and whatnot as well as sets that seem only developed to look as cool as possible. I’m not sure whether my definition of cool has changed over the years or director Kurt Wimmer and I just don’t jive on that subject, but it seemed a little too overwrought at times.

But, I still thought it was an enjoyable movie. If you saw the poster or cover and avoided it because it looked like a Matrix rip, it actually has nothing to do with that film aside from the fact that they share the same taste in jackets. Plus the cast includes a lot of great actors like Bale, Sean Bean, Taye Diggs (he’s great in this, you guys), Sean Pertwee, Emily Watson and Prison Break vets Dominic Purcell and William Fichtner. So, if you’ve got some time, give it a shot and see how it makes you feel. PUNS!

Go Go Gadget Rave

2008-08-08
3:58:38 am

As you can tell, I’ve been on something of an off and on ’90s kick lately. Mostly I’m just finally getting around to checking out flicks I never got to see when I was younger. I remember seeing the ads for Go (both TV and comic book, remember those?) and was curious (mostly because my fellow Christ the King grade school attendee Katie Holmes was in the flick). Anyway, I realized it was on my Blockbuster queue, bumped it up to the top and here’s what I thought.

Go (1999)

Written by John August (Charlie’s Angels 1 & 2, Big Fish, Corpse Bride)

Directed by Doug Liman (Swingers, Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Jumper)

Starring (deep breath) Sarah Polley, Katie Holmes, Scott Wolf, Jay Mohr, Timothy Olyphant, William Fitchner (Prison Break), Taye Diggs, Breckin Meyer, James Duval (Donnie Darko) Jane Krakowski (30 Rock) and Desmond Askey as the British guy

First off, it MUST be said that Go owes something to the films of Quentin Tarantino. Now, I’m not saying it’s a rip off or anything like that, but you definitely get a similar feel, especially with how the dialog is delivered by some the actors (especially Polley). There’s also the whole thing where the movie is told in non-linear segments. Again, not a direct lift, but considering Tarantino borrows a lot of elements for his films, I doubt he’d be too upset.

Okay, so onto the story. We start off with this chick Ronna who may or may not be 17, but is also getting evicted from her place and needs some money so she works an extra shift for her British co-worker. She gets caught up with drug dealers and cops and ends up getting hit by a car and left outside a rave to die. But that’s not all we see of her as we then hop back in time and follow a few other folks’ adventures and eventually see how they all tie together.

In general I like these kinds of movies. The kinds in which a few dumb mistakes lead to all kinds of crazy shit happening. Ronna doesn’t have enough money to pay for the ecstasy (or X as the kids call it), so she leaves Katie Holmes there as collateral. But it turns out that the guys who wanted it (Jay Mohr and Scott Wolf) are actually cops so she flushes the pills and then puts stolen aspirin in the bottle and trades the fake pills for Katie Holmes. She then goes to a rave with her friends (one of whom took TWO of the real pills, which Olyphant strictly forbade) and sells off the rest of the aspirin and allergy pills she stole from the grocery store at a rave. Olyphant (who’s freakin’ terrifying and funny at the same time) shows up, hears everyone talking about how this girl is selling the best X, chases her down and then she gets hit by the care. Holy crap, right? Right.

And that’s just part one. I gotta say, that, even as convoluted as the story may be, it’s a fun one and I definitely appreciate writer John August’s ability to keep so many characters straight and intertwine their stories so well. There’s characters that show up in this segment that show up in the next and everything ties together nicely. From what I hear, Crash is like this too, but I haven’t seen it yet. Plus, it’s crazy to go from this to Charlie’s Angels to working with Tim Burton multiple times.

The next section features the British guy (who works with Ronna and is her usual drug dealer, which is why she jumped up in the food chain and went to Olyphant himself), Taye Diggs, Brecken Meyer and James Duval going to Vegas, shooting a strip club bouncer and implicating Olyphant in said shooting (the British dude swiped his credit card which they used at the club). They head back to LA, which is apparently where the story takes place.

Holy cats, it turns out that Jay Mohr and Scott Wolf weren’t cops themselves, but working off a drug charge by helping Fichtner catch drug dealers. I think they might even be TV stars, but I kind of missed that part (that’s what happens when I get to the part of the movie I’m blogging about, I miss things). Hey Jay Mohr even invokes the title, nice work Jay. Okay, giving a play-by-play from here on out might get a little crazy, so I’m actually going to watch the movie for a while, Be right back…

Okay, movie’s over and it turns out everyone’s okay for the most part. There’s some weird scenes with Mohr and Wolf in Fichtner’s house, he’s married to Jane Krakowski and both he and his wife hit on the dudes (who turn out to be a couple). Anyway, they find out that they were cheating on each other with the same guy who’s at the rave. They’re the ones that hit Ronna with the car, leave and then head back to see if she’s dead and she’s not so everything ends up being okay. Even the British dude gets amicably shot in the arm by the bouncer whom he shot in Vegas.

So, I know I said I wasn’t going to summarize the movies so much, but Go seemed to fit the old style. Otherwise you’d have even less idea of what I’m talking about than I do and that doesn’t make for a very good blog post.

As you can see by this long summation, there’s a LOT going on with this movie and I love that. They don’t slow things down, you’ve just got to keep up or lose, which I like. I assume that’s what this blog can be like at times, especially after I’ve had a few and am on my third day trying to watch something. I also like the moral ambiguity of the ending. All these people who do relatively bad things end up fine and dandy (though I’m not sure if it’s physically possible to get hit by a car and left in a ditch for part of the night and still go into work the next day, but whatever).

In the end I recommend this movie to anyone who likes Tarantino flicks, X, Katie Holmes, crazy intertwining stories and raves. Side note, I’ve never done X, but if it makes you wear day glow pantaloons and dance around with glowsticks like a d-bag, I’m OUT. Just say no to lame, kids.