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A broad science fiction thriller in a classic vein,Equilibriumtakes a respectable stab at aFahrenheit 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 neighbors. 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/dueling guns motif is sheer silliness (a battle over a puppy doesn't help), butEquilibriumshould be seen for Bale's moving performance as a man shocked back to human feeling.--Tom Keogh
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